What do you call a group of crocodiles?
If you're a zoologist, it's a "float." If you're a lawyer, it's a decades-long, multinational trademark battle.
The right-facing croc on the bottom is the logo of the French fashion giant Lacoste (est. 1933), a familiar sight for preppy Western consumers.
The left-facing crocs on top belong to the Hong Kong company Crocodile Garments, which was founded by the brother of Singapore-based Crocodile International (est. 1947). Under the terms of a 2003 settlement, Crocodile Garments will replace the croc on top with the one in the middle by next month, and will refrain from using the color green in its logo. Lacoste, for its part, is legally in the right only so long as its crocodile faces right; in 2004 a Shanghai court invalidated its defensive registration of left-facing crocs in China after a challenge from Crocodile International.
Meanwhile, the popularity of the crocodile as an emblem continues: Lacoste just reached another settlement that will require a new Chinese company, Zhejiang Crocodile Garment, to stop using another similar croc logo within three years.
For the time being, Lacoste and the Crocodile brothers appear to be united in their desire to focus efforts on counterfeiting of all species of croc logos. But don't expect peace to reign for long in the animal kingdom.
Now can we talk about global trademarks?
P.S. Un grand merci to Frédéric Glaize of the fantastic Petit Musée des Marques site for bringing the battle of the crocodiles to my attention and forwarding a great Flickr picture taken in Hong Kong. (Frédéric charmingly referred to me as a "professeur de droit passionnée par la mode" -- a description that definitely belongs on my new business cards!)