NICK Xenophon’s has held a not so sheepish protest in California to make a stand against a big US company that’s taking legal action against a small Australian ugg boot maker.
Senator Xenophon was accompanied by a flock of sheep during the demonstration outside the head office of Deckers Outdoor Corporation in Santa Barbara, on Monday morning, Australian time.
“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,” he said a statement said.
Senator Xenophon held the protest with Eddie Oygur whose Sydney-based business Australian Leather is being sued by Deckers for alleged breach of trademark over use of the word ‘ugg’ and the boot’s patent design.
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 said.
“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.”