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Wealth & Economics > Ugg boots: A bit too daggy to wear in public (in Australia)?

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) But not in the US--to the tune of "US$689 million under the [Decker] UGG brand in 2008." (Might not be a completely valid number as it's a redirect to from

What do you think? Should "ugg" be protected from trademarking in the US or even worldwide?
Ugg boots have been described as being as Australian as feta is Greek, but few visitors would be aware that the company behind UGG, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, is in fact from the US.

The business is determined to stop Australian manufacturers from selling the boots worldwide. It is suing Sydney manufacturer Eddie Oygur for millions of dollars for alleged breach of trademark.

"It's outrageous," says Eddie Oygur, founder of Australian Leather, who is in the US for the legal battle.

"Ugg is just the name for the boots, and we've sold them for nearly a century. Now a US giant has trademarked the name, and wants to stop us."

Traditional Australian uggs were first made in the Blue Mountains in the 1930s to protect against the cold of winter in New South Wales. With the boots now fashionable overseas, legal tussles have begun.

It's a battle worth serious money. Revenue at California-based Deckers rose more than 20% to $209m (£161m; A$265m) in the first half of 2017.

Deckers registered the trademark UGG in 1999, and has since fought several legal battles with rival manufacturers preventing them from selling the boots in the US.

However, courts in Australia have come to the opposite view - ruling that "ugg" is a generic term for boots made from sheepskins with fleece attached. Now, the name ugg cannot be protected in Australia, and anyone is free to sell ugg boots there.
University of Adelaide branding expert Dean Wilkie has spent a lifetime studying why consumers choose to buy what he calls "country of origin" products. He told the BBC it's no surprise that Deckers has acted as they have.

"What they are doing is trading on what's called 'secondary association', in this case the Aussie lifestyle," he said. "They plaster the boots with Australian images, and give consumers a strong country of origin perspective. It portrays a laid-back, yet positive mood, which in turn puts the buyer in a positive frame of mind to buy."

He said very few buyers even look where boots are made. "Even if they do, we are so numb to buying goods made in China, consumers would just block their mind to it,", he said.
Image caption The UGG store owned by Deckers in central Melbourne

Mr Wilkie believes that US consumers also think of Australia as a place for holidays, so buying uggs is like buying a souvenir. "However, secondary association can be copied by competitors and then loses its value, so trademarking is a very smart move as it ensures you are the only company in the market," he said.

He argues the issue hasn't received much attention in Australia, because uggs are rarely worn in public down under. "They are a bit daggy, and often used as slippers. Most sales of uggs are to tourists," he said. "In the US it is seen as classy, just a little bit different, and a little edgy."


message 2: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments I have a pair of ugg boots. Have had a variety of them since I was a kid. They're usually used as slippers, but when I was a kid, we swimmers wore them with our trackies. (tracksuits) Those uggs were usually knee length with decorative bits on them.

They are considered a bit casual to wear out in public, but some people certainly do, although it does hold a certain stigma unless you're going to a friend's house and it's cold, and everyone's a bit tired and just wants to be comfy.

Never thought I'd be commenting on the social conventions of ugg boot wearing...

message 3: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9779 comments You can't patent something that someone else has "published", and that includes making and marketing. You can't copyright something that someone else wrote. So why can someone trademark a name or brand that someone else has used for selling?

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