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Las Vegas shoe company sues Crocs

A Las Vegas-based shoe company has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Crocs Inc., the Colorado-based company known for its ventilated plastic clogs.

The complaint, filed Wednesday in Las Vegas by U.S.A. Dawgs Inc., claims Crocs fraudulently obtained patents in 2006, then used a series of “sham” lawsuits to thwart its competitors and monopolize the market.

“This has been a major issue for us, almost since we started the company,” said Steven Mann, founder and CEO of U.S.A. Dawgs.

No one at Crocs could be reached for comment late Thursday.

“They’re a multibillion-dollar company,” Mann said. “We’re a small, family-owned company.”

Mann, a Henderson resident, said he founded U.S.A. Dawgs in 2006. The company, which manufactures and distributes a variety of shoes, has a 90,000-square-foot warehouse in Las Vegas and soon will launch two lines of apparel.

Brian Elliott, corporate counsel for U.S.A. Dawgs, said Crocs has filed dozens of patent-infringement lawsuits. Some of them targeted U.S.A. Dawgs and its Canadian affiliate, Double Diamond Distribution.

U.S.A. Dawgs “has incorrectly become widely deemed and stigmatized as a counterfeiter and a provider of merely knock-off footwear,” according to the company’s lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which seeks more than $75,000 in unspecified damages, claims Crocs has tried to monopolize the market for ventilated, clog-type shoes made from ethyl vinyl acetate, a plastic.

“We want to reopen the market for our clogs,” Elliott said.

He said the plastic clogs were on the market for years before Crocs was founded in 2002.

“Crocs doesn’t have patents on those shoes anywhere else in the world,” the lawyer said.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.

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