Court penalises online ugg boot trader over Australian made claims

24 June 2011

Online trader Marksun Australia Pty Ltd has been penalised $430,000 for engaging in false and misleading conduct following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the Federal Court in Perth.

As part of the penalty, $100,000 was ordered against Marksun for unauthorised use of the Australian made logo.
 
Marksun promoted the Chinese made ugg boots via a registered trade mark “Marksun Products Ugg Boots from Australia”, the statement “Made in Australia from Australia Wool”, silhouette images of wombats and kangaroos, images of the Australian flag and Sydney Opera House and the official green and gold Australian Made Logo.

In his judgment, Justice Gilmour said “the overall character of the conduct in promoting goods that are entirely made in China was calculated to apply a veneer of ‘Australian-ness’ or ‘Australia washing’” and in handing down the penalty found that the conduct was “deliberate and dishonest”.

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel said this matter highlights the need for businesses to be particularly careful when they are promoting their products to ensure the promotional material does not represent the product as something it is not.

“The ACCC considers country of origin claims to be a particularly valuable marketing tool for businesses as many consumers place a premium on goods that are Australian made. This outcome serves as a timely reminder that the ACCC will not hesitate to take action against businesses which mislead consumers about the origin of the goods they are selling.

“The ACCC will continue to monitor advertising of this nature to ensure compliance with the Act.”

In addition to the penalties, Justice Gilmour made orders that Marksun be permanently prevented from engaging in similar conduct, publish a notice on the homepage of each website on which it promotes its ugg boot, setting out the court's orders and pay the ACCC's costs.

Marksun is an online seller of ugg boots and promoted its products on a number of Australian domain websites including:

• www.marksunboots.com.au;
• www.uggbootsonsale.com.au;
• www.uggbootsoutlet.com.au;
• www.authenticuggboots.com.au;
• www.australiauggbootsonsale.com.au;
• www.uggexpress.com.au;
• www.ugg-boots-outlet.com.au;
• www.australiauggbootstore.com.au
• www.uggclassicboots.com.au;
• www.ugg-boots-australian.com.au; and
• www.ugg-boots-melbourne.com.au.

 

Release number: 
NR 107/11
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media enquiries: 
Mr Graeme Samuel - (03) 9290 1812
Mr Brent Rebecca - (02) 6243 1317