Trendy sandal-maker files patent-infringement

April 5, 2006

Crocs Inc., the Colorado maker of a trendy foam sandal, filed legal claims against 11 companies it alleges are infringing on its patents.

Niwot-based Crocs filed a lawsuit in federal court and a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday.

Crocs are made of brightly colored resin and look like clogs perforated with big holes. The company, which went public two months ago, said it has four patents and has applied for others.

“Although consumers have clearly demonstrated their desire for the genuine Crocs brand, it is incumbent upon us to fully protect our intellectual property and we will do so in every appropriate instance where we believe our intellectual property is being infringed,” chief executive Ron Snyder said in a written statement.

A company spokeswoman said Crocs would not comment further.

Crocs retail for about $30 while some similar shoes are sold for as little as $10.

That hasn’t hurt the company’s business, said Mitch Kummetz, a Denver-based senior analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co.

But “any pair of knockoff product that is sold is potentially taking away from the sale of the original Crocs,” he said. “Clearly they want to protect their position.”

Carl Forest, a patent attorney and partner at Patton Boggs LLC, said growing companies often file legal challenges against what they consider to be imitators.

“It’s a sign of being successful,” Forest said.

Crocs shares were up 90 cents at $27.23 in afternoon trading on
the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

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