VANCOUVER — A legal battle between the maker of ubiquitous plastic clogs and a Saskatchewan footwear company escalated as both filed lawsuits against the other in Canada, moving a decade-long dispute outside the U.S.
Crocs, Inc. filed a suit against Saskatoon-based Double Diamond Distribution Ltd. earlier this month alleging the company, which makes and sells Dawgs shoes, infringes on its design.
Crocs said its mammoth clogs — the company's classic plastic clog with a backstrap — and its similar shearling lined version are protected by U.S. patents and a certificate of registration under Canada's Industrial Design Act.
The company alleged in its statement of claim that the competitor's so-called fleece Dawgs copy its product design.
None of the allegations have been proved in court.
Crocs wants Double Diamond to give them or destroy any of its products that mimic its Crocs design and unspecified financial damages, among other monetary pay outs.
"That's a very weak patent. I'm not too concerned about that," said Steven Mann, CEO of Double Diamond and its American counterpart, USA Dawgs Inc.
The company's lawyers are working on a statement of defence, Mann said, adding his design has about 35 differences when compared to the Crocs shoe.
He believes his clog competitor filed the suit as "a retaliation complaint" after his filing in a Saskatoon court targeting Crocs several days prior.
Double Diamond alleges Crocs misled consumers and retailers since 2003 by claiming the Croslite material it uses to make all its shoes is patented.
The statement of claim alleges the material was never patented and points to recent financial filings where the company says Croslite is not patented, despite promotional material claiming otherwise. The false statements steered business away from competitors to Crocs, it reads.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Crocs, which has yet to file a statement of defence, said they are without merit.
"Any allegations made by Dawgs are a tactic to harass the company and its employees," the statement read.
Merchant Law Group LLP, which is representing Double Diamond, also launched a class-action lawsuit a few days later on behalf of lead plaintiff Timothy Ducie and anyone who has purchased Crocs made with Croslite. The suit makes the same allegations.
Crocs denies the allegations in that suit as well.
Mann said he filed his suit as "a survival move" and said the two companies have been embroiled in legal battles since 2006 with similar suits ongoing in the States.
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Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press