Court Rules, no monopoly over a ‘perforated’ design
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.