The General Court of the EU ruled in Case T‑651/16, Crocs, Inc. v EUIPO, Gifi Diffusion. This case concerns a registered EU design 257001-0001 by Western Brands LLC on 22.11.2004 with claimed priority based on a US design registered on 28.05.2004.
This EU design after that was transferred to Crocs. In 2013, the French-based company Gifi Diffusion filed an application for a declaration of invalidity of the design based on a lack of novelty.
As it is known, one EU design can receive protection only in the case that it is novel and has individual character.
EUIPO took a decision for invalidation of the design, which decision was confirmed by the General Court.
The reason for this was that information for the design was available in 2003 through the Corcs’ website, it was displayed on an exhibition in Florida and was available for sale.
Corcs argued that such information wasn’t accessible in EU at that time, but the Court dismissed it because there was no evidence that the Corcs’website wasn’t accessible in EU.
This case is indicative of the need for a good intellectual property planning. In the case of industrial designs and inventions, this is crucial because if these IP assets are not new, for example, they cannot be protected. Due to this, all information regarding them has to be managed very carefully in order to fulfill the respective legal requirements.