The International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a decision terminating Old Dominion Footwear from a proceeding instituted by Crocs, Inc., makers of the popular foam clog-like shoe, against twelve of Crocs’ competitors. This decision, obtained by Old Dominion’s counsel Sughrue Mion, PLLC, an international intellectual property firm in Washington D.C., ensured Old Dominion that it could continue to sell its AquaDuck® line of Quacks shoes; a condition that is less certain for the other eleven companies.
In 2006, Crocs filed a complaint alleging infringement of Crocs’ design and utility patents for foam footwear by twelve respondents. Crocs sought a general exclusion order to prohibit all foam footwear, including Old Dominion Footwear’s Quacks shoes, from being imported and sold in the United States. Virginia-based Old Dominion Footwear was not named in the complaint, but its Quacks shoes were alleged to be infringing Crocs’ design patent. Upon learning that its client’s Quacks shoes were being targeted for infringement, the Sughrue trial team successfully moved to intervene on behalf of Old Dominion Footwear as a party in the investigation.
On November 7, 2006, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the ITC determined that none of the respondents infringed Crocs’ design patent. However, this decision was appealed by Crocs to the Commission. On February 15, 2007, the Commission ruled to terminate the investigation with respect to Old Dominion Footwear while remanding the ALJ’s decision for further consideration. The Commission’s decision affirmed the ALJ’s holding that the AquaDuck® line of Quacks shoes does not infringe Crocs’ design patent while leaving the remaining respondents to continue to defend their designs against Crocs’ attack.
“This is a great outcome for us,” Barry Guthrie, CFO for Old Dominion Footwear, said. “Even if Crocs is able to secure an exclusion order for other manufacturers and sellers of foam footwear, Old Dominion can continue to sell our Quacks shoes. These are very popular shoes for us, and this decision assures that we can continue to sell our Quacks shoes no matter what the outcome as to our competitors. We are quite pleased with Sughrue’s work for us in this case.”
“The speed at which the ITC works is clear in this decision. With patent cases in other venues, the case can go on for years,” William Mandir, a partner at Sughrue and lead trial counsel for Old Dominion Footwear, said. “The quick decision in favor of Old Dominion Footwear meant that their business was not interrupted and they could continue to meet consumer demand for their shoes, without worrying about what the outcome would be. The fact that Crocs, Inc.’s projected total revenues for fiscal year 2006 are more than $300 million illustrates the huge market potential in this industry and the high demand for quality products.”
In addition to Mr. Mandir, the Sughrue trial team included Mack Webner, Grant Rowan, and Daniel Williams.