Crocs says it got fleeced by Sask. shoemaker's 'imitation' product

Crocs and the Saskatoon-based maker of Dawgs moulded shoes have filed suit against each other.

Crocs and the Saskatoon-based maker of Dawgs moulded shoes filed suit against each other

Crocs is the target of two lawsuits filed at the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon last month. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)

Two competing shoemakers, including a Saskatchewan-based company, are suing each other over duelling claims.

Saskatoon's Double Diamond Distribution, which sells moulded clog shoes under the "Dawgs" brand name, claims the American-based Crocs shoe company has falsely advertised its own moulded footwear.

Crocs, meanwhile, has filed a suit alleging that Double Diamond Distribution has for the last nine years sold a product, Fleece Dawgs, that is an "imitation" of a registered and patented Crocs design.

The two suits were filed within days of each other in Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench and federal court, respectively.

Neither of the claims have been proven in court.

Claims of false advertising, ripped-off design

Double Diamond's suit alleges that Crocs, since 2003, has falsely claimed that its shoes are made with a special patented resin called Croslite.

"Crocs actively misled consumers, retailers, and the public to believe that Croslite was patented and therefore contained some unique or special properties, when it did not," reads the statement of claim filed to the Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench.

The company is seeking punitive damages for alleged losses, saying Croslite-related advertising gave Crocs an unfair competitive advantage.

A screen grab from Double Diamond Distribution's website submitted by Crocs' lawyers for the court's consideration.

"Any allegations made by Dawgs are a tactic to harass the company and its employees and are without merit," Crocs wrote in an e-mailed statement to CBC News.

"Crocs is of the opinion that Dawgs has unlawfully profited from its imitation product for years without investing its own time, research, or money into making a product of their own."

Crocs is seeking damages from Double Diamond stemming from sales of Fleece Dawgs, plus court costs.

Class action also filed

Merchant Law Group, which is representing Double Diamond, has also filed a separate class action lawsuit against Crocs.

MLG claims that the plaintiff, Saskatoon resident Timothy Ducie, would not have bought a pair of Unisex Bistro Graphic black/pearl white clogs for $66.59 in August if he had been told the Croslite material was not patented.

"The Plaintiff did not know, and could not have known without conducting research far and above what any reasonable consumer would do in these circumstances, that the Croslite material was not in fact patented and that there was in fact no 'benefit' to purchasing Crocs on that basis," reads the statement of claim.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for alleged losses on the part of the defendants, claiming that Crocs would "have sold no or alternatively fewer products or would have sold them at a reduced price and would not have received any or a part of the revenues which they received."

Both lawsuits claim that Crocs founder Scott Seamans testified in a previous lawsuit that Croslite was never patented and there were no plans to patent it.

None of the defendants had filed a statement of defence by 3:30 p.m. CST Friday afternoon.

MLG firm known for class action suits

Merchant's law group is known for its involvement in class action lawsuits, including claims against companies such as Toyota, Equifax and the manufacturers of OxyContin.

Regina lawyer Tony Merchant between stacks of legal documents. (CBC )

His firm also represented thousands of residential school survivors in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

It was later involved in a dispute with the Canadian government, which argued that the firm should have to pay back legal fees because of allegations its billings were inflated.