By  on July 21, 2008

The battle for the molded footwear market leapt from store shelves to the courthouse this month when Crocs Inc. brought a patent and trade dress lawsuit against Skechers USA Inc. According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for Colorado in Denver on July 10, Skechers footwear using "Nano Lite" foam construction mimics Crocs' designs and logos. The suit alleges that Skechers' Low Tide, Gypsies and Wooly Bully models, among others, infringe on Crocs' designs, as does a cartoon bear used on the rivet of Skechers' foam footwear. Boulder, Colo.-based Crocs' shoes make use of a cartoon crocodile in a similar fashion. Skechers responded to the allegations in a statement issued by Philip Paccione, executive vice president and general counsel for the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company. "We believe that this lawsuit is completely without merit and will vigorously defend ourselves against such baseless accusations," Paccione said.

Costco Wholesale Corp. has been accused of breach of contract by Clues Fashions Inc. According to documents filed on July 3 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the big-box retailer failed to honor an agreement to ship back 160,000 pairs of ladies' stretch gauchos it bought from the vendor in October 2005. Costco alleged that the goods were damaged by a tape used to package the original shipments and entered an agreement with Clues to return all the garments for repair and reshipment. In its complaint, Clues, based in New York, said that not all of the pants were returned, but that Costco took deductions from the company as if they had been. Clues is seeking more than $207,700 for the cost of the goods, interest and other unspecified damages. According to court documents, attorneys for Costco have filed a motion to dismiss the case or move it to the U.S. District Court for the state of Washington, where the company has its headquarters in Issaquah. The company did not return a call seeking comment.

Perfume World Center LLC has been accused of trademark infringement and trafficking in counterfeit goods by Parfums Gres SA. According to documents filed July 2 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Perfume World Center, a New York-based fragrance store, has sold forged versions of the Swiss perfumer's Cabotine de Gres. Parfums Gres is seeking an injunction to halt further sale of the goods, the disclosure of names and addresses of the parties from whom Perfume World obtained the counterfeit goods, the destruction of all counterfeit product, legal fees and other unspecified damages. Perfume World Center could not be reached for comment.

Burberry Ltd. sued Euro Moda Inc., Moda Oggi Inc. and John Fanning, a principal of both firms, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on June 26. The case alleges, among other items, trademark counterfeiting and breach of a 2005 contract in which Euro Moda and Fanning agreed not to infringe on the firm's intellectual property. "The defendants have continued to sell counterfeit merchandise, including scarves, shirts and hats, that display Burberry trademarks or substantially similar reproductions," the suit said. Burberry is asking the court to enjoin the defendants from reproducing its trademarks, for destruction of all unauthorized products and for damages and profits gained from use of the trademarks. Fanning could not be reached for comment.

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