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US footwear giant to fight Aussie business for monopoly on sale of 'ugg' boots

A legal showdown is shaping up between a small Sydney company and US footwear giant Deckers over the quintessentially Australian ‘ugg’ boot.

The $2.4b Decker Group owns the ‘UGG Australia’ trademark in 120 countries and wants to kill off the Lidcombe family-run business.

In Australia and New Zealand, ‘ugg’ has become a generic term to describe the flat-soled, sheepskin style of boots – but the Deckers’ ‘UGG Australia’ brand has gained popularity worldwide.

The 'UGG Australia' brand is owned by the Decker Group. Photo: 7 News
The 'UGG Australia' brand is owned by the Decker Group. Photo: 7 News

Those boots are made in China using sheepskins from the US.

The Deckers Group wants to shutdown Aussie producers, stopping them from exporting the real thing.

But Adnan ‘Eddie’ Oygur says he wants a stab at the market.

"I'd like to export, to have a fair go selling Australian-made products all over the world."

Which is which? These are Australian-made uggs produced by the Oygur family's Australian Leather Pty Ltd. Photo: 7 News
Which is which? These are Australian-made uggs produced by the Oygur family's Australian Leather Pty Ltd. Photo: 7 News


The Oygur family has been making uggs for 25 years but the Decker Group has trademarked the word ‘UGG’ in 120 countries, including the US.

It is demanding the Oygurs burn their stock and hand over all their cash, which has pitted the company and its workers in a fight for survival.

Deckers will argue its case in the District Court in Chicago, Illinois. If it wins, it is likely the ruling would be enforced in Australia under Free Trade Agreements with the US, unless the government steps in.

The boots’ style was developed as part of Aussie surfing culture in the 1960s, and supporters of the local industry argue the ‘ugg’ should be protected in the same way the French preserve the term champagne.

The Oygur family's business could be shut down if the Deckers Group is successful in a US District Court.  Photo: 7 News
The Oygur family's business could be shut down if the Deckers Group is successful in a US District Court. Photo: 7 News

"We need this to be exempted under the Australia/America Free Trade Agreement otherwise there'll be no hope for people like Eddie and all the other businesses like his around the country," Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said.

The Oygur's face a $500,000 legal bill to defend the US court case.

"Somebody has to stand up for them, and if I'm chosen for this, let it be! Come on! Let's have it on," My Oygur told 7 News.

The Trade Minister said he would consider legislation to protect the ugg.

News break – May 23