Porsche vs. Crocs…

November 9, 2009

It’s Q season and footnoted regulars know what that means — lots of crazy things buried deep in the filings. Sonya, Kristen and myself spent much of the weekend in our waders working our way through all sorts of filings. Some of the biggest names — Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), Yahoo (YHOO), Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C) were filed late Friday and we’ll be posting observations from those filings and others that come in later today over on subscription-only FootnotedPro.

But this one we’re giving away: in the 10-Q that footnoted frequent flyer Crocs (CROX) filed last week, there was an interesting new disclosure about Porsche, the German car-maker, suing Crocs, the Colorado-based shoe manufacturer over the use of the name Cayman. Here’s the snip from the filing:

On May 11, 2009, Crocs Europe B.V. received a letter from Dr. Ing. H.c.F. Porsche AG (“Porsche”) claiming that the Company’s use of the “Cayman” shoe model designator infringes upon their Community Trademark Registration of the mark “CAYMAN” in class 25. Porsche is requesting that Crocs Europe B.V. immediately cease and desist use of the Cayman mark and pay Porsche’s attorney’s fees in conjunction with the issuance of the notice letter. On July 30, 2009 the Company was served with notice of an injunction against Crocs Europe BV’s use of the Cayman mark in Germany.

Now few people would probably confuse Crocs’ Cayman sandal for the Porsche Cayman. After all, one sells for $29.99 and the other starts at $51,000. And if this had been filed in the United States, instead of in Germany, we’d be even quicker to dismiss it. But at the very least, it’s got to be an expensive distraction for Crocs, which had to find a law firm in Germany to represent its interests. In the filing, Crocs says it plans to “vigorously defend” itself against the claims. But vigorous defenses rarely come cheaply. It’s not clear from the filing whether Crocs has already stopped selling the Caymans in Germany or not. Any footnoted readers in Germany care to weigh in?

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