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.
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.