A Crocs store inside the Beverly Center shopping mall in Los Angeles.

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

A recent patent ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office might strip protections from the unmistakable design of the Crocs clog.

In a statement, the Niwot, Colorado-based company said they disagreed with the ruling and will appeal.

“The impact of this ruling has been greatly exaggerated in certain news reports,” said Daniel P. Hart, executive vice president and chief legal officer at Crocs. “We are confident in the appeals process and, moreover, we have plans in place to continue to protect our Classic Clog design well beyond the life of this particular patent.”

The company said they will continue to “aggressively enforce” their intellectual property rights. The Daily Camera reports that Crocs has been pursing court cases against alleged infringing designs. Eleven shoemakers were sued in 2006, though most were dismissed. Crocs and a shoemaker named USA Dawgs have been involved in a lengthy legal battle.

USA Dawgs CEO Steve Mann told Footwear News that for them, the ruling “is quite significant — this is a testament and endorses what our position has been all along.”

Crocs’ patent, D517789, was ruled as invalid because the USPTO said that a similar design was published more than a year before Crocs sought the patent. Crocs notes that the ruling is just the next step in the process. They can still appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals if they are unhappy with the determination of the board.