In a recent IP battle, Crocs – the manufacturer of plastic clogs that we often seen worn in the summer, was unable to secure protection for its design.
This case is an example of just how difficult it can be to secure patent protection, and how important it is to seek a patent before launching a product to market.
The company had showcased its product at a show in Florida in 2002 but did not seek its patent until 2004. First of all this exposed their product without patent protection, but in addition under EU rules, protection cannot be provided if a design has been in the public domain more than 12 months before an application is made.
It is absolutely essential to seek patent protection early on. There is always the risk of copycats, but if you have secured patent protection you have more of a leg to stand on.
Crocs does have a small window to appeal, so we shall see if they choose to do so.