Australian company loses brand record
– A US appeals court doesn’t buy what an Australian company sells, letting an American company keep its trademark on the word “Ugg”. The name is not only synonymous with a type of sheepskin boots, but it is a symbol and point of pride for Australians. Deckers Outdoor Corp. (which owns the UGG Australia brand) and Australian Leather have been vying for ownership of the name for five years, the New York Times reports, and may well continue to fight: the owner of Australian Leather has said he will take the case to the United States Supreme Court. “It’s not just about me; it’s about Australia‘s takeover of ‘ugg’,” said Eddie Oygur. “The mark should never have been given in the United States in the first place.” It’s a generic term in Australia for fleece-lined sheepskin boots, but an Australian brand registered the word in the United States in the 1980s and then sold it to Deckers.
Internet sales compound the problem. An Australian expert on the brand said most people there would take it as wrong that an American company doesn’t let others use “ugg” to sell sheepskin boots, as is the case here. But he acknowledged that Deckers has turned their Uggs into a sophisticated brand over the years, which is not the path uggs take in Australia. “The internet has given us access to a global market,” the expert said, adding: “But legal systems are not global. They are within countries.” It was Deckers, which owns the “ugg” brand in 130 countries, that for the first time brought an action for infringement of ABC.net, after Oygur sold 13 pairs of “ugg” boots in the United States on the Internet. “We should be able to sell our ugg boots around the world,” Oygur said. “It’s generic here, and it’s an Australian product.” (Read more stories of trademark infringement.)