Ugg Sues Emu Due To 'Boot Confusion'

Compare the Emu boot (left) with one made by Ugg Australia (right).

Compare the Emu boot (left) with one made by Ugg Australia (right).

The Wall Street Journal announced yesterday that Deckers Outdoor Corp., owner of Ugg Australia, has filed a lawsuit against competitor Emu Australia for “deliberately confusing customers” with yet another shearling-lined boot. Emu fired back that Ugg produces a signature ‘down under’-established product, not made in Australia or owned by an Aussie-based company.

Compare an Emu boot (left) with one made by Ugg Australia (right).

Is either brand in the right? We think not. What appears to be a new argument is fairly long-standing – the ugg boot is actually a style, rather than a brand, originally worn by World War I pilots. (The term “ugg” is short for “fugg,” or flying ugg, but we don’t need to tell you what else it stands for.) Since its creation, the Ugg-style boot has been created by dozens of companies; all claim to be ‘the original,’ but only one came out on top: Ugg Australia. The brand made $100 million in 2010’s first quarter and its NYC flagship sports long lines year-round.

But with over 70 registered trademarks using the term, this could open the door for more lawsuits. Guess we shouldn’t tell Mortels Sheepskin Factory – the company won rights to the title ‘ugg boot’ in 2006. To further the irony, Ugg Australia’s Web site features a page devoted to counterfeit education, a clear jab at lesser-known Ugg designers.