Crocs took action against copycats and sued a collection of retailers, manufacturers, and distributors for trademark infringement.
Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and 19 others sell versions of the company’s clog at lower prices, according to the suit filed in the US District Court of Colorado.
“Given the virtually infinite number of different, non-infringing footwear styles in existence today, and which are available to other footwear companies, Crocs’ competitors do not have any actual competitive need to use the Crocs 3D Marks in commerce,” the filing read.
According to Business Insider, “the 3D marks are the holes at the top of the Crocs clog — a signature part of its look.”
The shoe brand’s financial performance has historically been a rollercoaster. After its launch in 2002 and initial popularity, the brand reported major losses in 2008.
“A mix of things contributed to the downturn. Crocs had a team of executives with no experience in footwear or fashion—its then-CEO Ron Snyder was a former exec at Flextronics, an electronic contract manufacturing firm. And because of that, they didn’t have a handle on production and fulfillment. They would make too much product and have to deal with excess inventory. Or they wouldn’t fulfill store orders in a timely manner. The product assortment also got too big, going from 25 styles in 2006 to 250 in 2007. But one of its main issues was perception. While brand awareness around Crocs was high, young people found the foam clog ugly and unappealing. And amidst all of this, a recession was happening. Crocs was inching toward bankruptcy,” per Complex.
Thanks to Generation Z and their favorite online platform TikTok, Crocs have made a meteoric comeback in recent years. The plastic shoes are wildly popular and often considered a staple of streetwear style. In 2017, they were ranked the 30th most popular shoe brand. Two years later, they had climbed to number 13.
As part of its campaign to change its perception, Crocs has launched collaborations with everyone from popstars to fast food restaurants to cosmetic brands. The list includes Justin Beiber, Diplo, KFC, Luke Combs, Benefit Cosmetics, Peeps, Vera Bradley, Balenciaga, and Post Malone.
It was a tweet from Post Malone that helped Crocs explode in popularity on TikTok. The artist tweeted “u can tell a lot about a man by the jibbits on his crocs” leading to their collaboration. To promote the line, the company got on TikTok and created the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge. It went viral almost instantly. PR Weekly reported that the hashtag was viewed 95 million times with 45,000 videos created within 36 hours of its launch.
u can tell a lot about a man by the jibbits on his crocs
— Posty (@PostMalone) June 6, 2018
In a press release regarding the lawsuit, Daniel Hart, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal & Risk Officer at Crocs said “These actions underscore our determination to take forceful steps to protect our trademarks and other intellectual property… It is essential that we protect Crocs’ iconic DNA, and we will not tolerate the infringement of our rights or those who try to freeride on the investments we have made in our brand.”
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