Australia could soon be banned from calling sheepskin boots ‘uggs‘

Lidcombe ugg boot maker Eddie Oygur pictured in his warehouse hoping his business will survive, depending on the ruling. Picture: Toby Zerna

Australia is this week set to lose the rights to “ugg” boots, a disaster described as equivalent to France losing the rights to champagne or Greece the rights to feta.

The only hope is for the federal government to directly appeal to American judges and provide about $500,000 in legal funding.

Without that, Sydney shoemaker Eddie Oygur will lose his five-year legal battle against US outdoor clothing retailer Deckers and Australia will be banned from describing sheepskin boots as “uggs”.

Mr. Oygur’s lawyers believe the case to keep uggs out of American hands stands a better than even chance of winning before the US Supreme Court.

But to do that it needs the Australian government to intervene in the case.

“The Australian Government could play a key role here by explaining how its businesses are harmed,” US attorney Mark Bagley said.

Mr. Oygur’s legal argument is “ugg” is a generic Australian term for sheepskin boots lined with fleece made since the 1960s that should be protected against the trademark in the same way you cannot trademark French “Champagne” or Greek “feta”.

If he loses, Mr. Oygur, 60, will be financially ruined by Deckers, a global behemoth that manufactures its ugg boots in China and Vietnam.

Agents acting for Deckers bought ugg boots off Mr. Oygur’s website in 2016 and then cried foul when the shoes arrived in the post, claiming their US trademark had been infringed.

“At first I had to defend myself and my business, but then I realized I was fighting for Australia,” Mr. Oygur said.

“I believe ugg boots belong to all Australians but, if I go down, we lose uggs from Australia for good.

“I really thought the Australian government would step in and say: ‘This is not right’ but they have ignored our fight.”

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash’s office would only say helping out was “under consideration”.

Former senator and now lawyer Nick Xenophon is so incensed with what he described as the government’s “couldn’t give a stuff attitude” about the ugg boot test case he is seriously considering another tilt at federal politics.

Mr. Xenophon said it is “do or die” for the case.

“For the last five years, Eddie has been standing up for Australia to bring the ugg back home, and with it thousands of jobs. It’s about time the Australian Government stood up for the national interest, and stood by Eddie,” Mr. Xenophon said.

“This should be a no-brainer. Are our political leaders so out of touch that they can’t see the benefits of rolling their sleeves up and getting involved?

“(To) let an overseas corporate giant bully Aussie battlers like Eddie is a disgrace.”