SOME politicians like to go out with a bang but Nick Xenophon’s potential Canberra swan-song could come with a bleat.
Yesterday, the popular SA Senator revealed he’d be quitting Canberra after almost a decade to pursue a career in the SA parliament where he’s concerned voters may be acting like sheep and getting more of the same treatment by voting for the two major political parties – Labor and Liberal.
Never one to avoid standing out from the crowd, Senator Xenophon - in what could be his final political media stunt in the federal arena, especially given the High Court hearing regarding his dual citizenship issue is due next week - will stand beside a flock of sheep to show he gives a damn about Aussie ugg boots.
What does this all mean?
Senator Xenophon will accompany a flock of sheep as he protests in the Californian town of Santa Barbara against heavy-handed legal action that’s being taken in the US against a small Australian ugg boot maker and exporter.
The NXT leader has described the legal case as a Trans Pacific David v Goliath battle, involving Sydney manufacturer Eddie Oygur.
The two will hold their unusual protest outside the head office of the company in question - Deckers Outdoor Corporation - in Santa Barbara, with their sheep backers, at roughly 5am Australian eastern standard time on Monday.
“If this Aussie battler wins his landmark trademark US court case against Deckers Outdoor Corporation, Australia will be able to reclaim the use of the word ‘ugg’ for export markets, creating thousands of jobs,” Senator Xenophon’s statement said.
It also said the flock of sheep would be used to demonstrate how Deckers is “pulling the wool over the eyes of consumers, while trying to fleece Eddie”.
Mr Oygur’s business Australian Leather is being sued for alleged breach of trademark over use of the word ‘ugg’ and the boot’s patent design, by Deckers.
Australian leather employs 40 people compared with Deckers’ 3200 - but was sued last year by the US company for allegedly selling a small number of ugg boots into the US.
“Deckers is after millions of dollars in punitive damages, claiming it owns the right to the word ‘ugg’ around the world - except in Australia and New Zealand where it is regarded as a generic term,” Senator Xenophon’s statement said.
“Ironically, the brand Deckers wants to protect ‘ugg Australia’ with over $1 billion dollars in sales annually (but) is actually made in China and Vietnam with no discernible Australian content.
“After obtaining the trademark to ugg in the 1990s, Deckers has aggressively sued Australian ugg boot makers.
“Inevitably small ugg makers fold when faced with a multi-million dollar law suit that threatens to bankrupt them.
“But not Eddie.
“Eddie has already spent $600,000 fighting the case, mortgaging everything he owns.”
Australian Leather describes itself as the number one manufacturer of high quality genuine Australian sheepskin products and among the first producers of sheepskin footwear and leather apparel in Australia.
“We are focused on maintaining our strong lead in the industry and producing original Australian made products that meet the demands of today’s fashion,” the website says.
A petition to raise support for the case says the unprecedented court action, if successful, would “shut down Eddie’s business”.
It says the sweeping orders sought in the case include; multi-million dollar punitive damages; all of Australian Leather’s ugg boot stock to be delivered to Deckers for destruction; and all funds in Australian Leather’s bank accounts be transferred to Deckers.
“Ugg boots are a quintessentially Australian product - the product and name were invented here, they’re not just part of our culture, they create local jobs and export earnings,” it says.
“This form of legal bullying has already forced other companies to stop exporting ugg boots and in another case from even using the words ‘ugg’ boots.”
Senator Xenophon said the legal battle was like a classic David v Goliath battle where the little battler deserved to win.
“Think of it like a version of the iconic movie ‘The Castle’,” he said.
“Eddie is risking everything to fight this case - not just for him but for every other little guy that’s been done over by Deckers and for consumers the world over who deserve to be wearing true blue Aussie made ugg boots.”