Court Rules, no monopoly over a ‘per­fo­rated’ de­sign

Shoes & Accessories - - The Month That Was -

The Delhi High Court said there can­not be any monopoly over a ‘per­fo­rated’ de­sign for footwear, while hear­ing Crocs In­dia’s plea against Bata In­dia Ltd and oth­ers for al­leged in­fringe­ment of its footwear de­sign.

Ac­cord­ing to jus­tice Valmiki J. Me­hta, “You can­not claim monopoly over plas­tic, per­fo­ra­tion, back strap or sole etc. your ar­gu­ments ap­pear prima fa­cie ab­surd.” He fur­ther asked Akhil Sibal, ap­pear­ing for Crocs In­dia, if there would still be any is­sue if the shape or po­si­tion of per­fo­ra­tions was changed by other man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Apart from the claim over per­fo­ra­tions, Crocs In­dia claimed pro­tec­tion un­der De­signs Act for other fea­tures on its footwear as well, in­clud­ing its unique shape, outer/in­ner sole and toe box.

In Novem­ber 2017, Bata and oth­ers had ar­gued that the ‘per­fo­ra­tions’ were for the pur­pose of aer­a­tion and hence were a ‘prin­ci­ple of con­struc­tion’, which can­not be pro­tected un­der the De­signs Act. They also ar­gued that ‘a footwear is a footwear’, and that there could not be any monopoly over it.

In 2014, Crocs In­dia had ini­ti­ated a se­ries of suits against Bata, Lib­erty, Re­laxo, Ac­tion and Bioworld Mer­chan­dis­ing In­dia al­leg­ing in­fringe­ment of its reg­is­tered de­sign. An in­junc­tion or­der dated Au­gust 2014 pro­hib­ited Bata and oth­ers from com­mer­cially ex­ploit­ing Crocs In­dia’s ‘clog­type shoes’ de­sign for the time be­ing.

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