Yummy mummy boots brand ‘Ugg Australia’ has won its lawsuit against Dutch shoe company Intermedium Shoes B.V. The lawsuit related to a copy of Ugg’s ‘Bailey Button’ boots which have a button on the side. The company had discovered a German retailer selling what they perceived to be ’knock-off’ versions of the boots and traced them back to Intermedium, a Dutch company, which had manufactured and distributed them.
Ugg Australia have a registered design on the boot which Intermedium sought to have invalidated. Fortunately for Ugg, it failed.
Registered Designs are registered with the Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM) and receive EU Wide protection for 25 years. Research indicates that there has been little use of Registered Design Rights in the fashion industry in Europe. This is most likely because of the seasonal nature of the fashion industry – few designs are popular more than three years after they appear on the runway. Typically, fashion collections appear on the runway six months in advance of appearing in the shops, allowing time for advertising and shops to place orders. Within this time, factories in China (were most counterfeit clothes are imported from) can produce and export almost identical copies making it possible for knock offs to reach shops before the originals. Ugg boots, rather strangely, have increased in popularity over the last decade, and Deckers Outdoor Corporation, Ugg’s parent company, had registered the designs, thus receiving 25 years protection from being copied.
Following the decision by Hague District Court in Ugg’s favour, president, CEO and chairman of Deckers Outdoor Corporation issued the following statement “Intermedium’s infringement and subsequent attempt to invalidate our long-standing Registered Community Design in the European Union illustrates the breadth and depth of the issues we face as an industry, when large and established companies attempt to skirt the law.”
Ugg Australia is a vigorous protector of IP rights and the company educates customers on the matter via its website, offering tips on spotting fakes and publishing lists of authorised sellers online. Remember, fakes are never in fashion!