Ugg Boots are as Australian as vegemite, fairy bread and kangaroos… or are they? Flare-ups continue between Australian shoe manufacturers and California based company Deckers over the term, after legal issues first arose in the 2010.
In Australia and New Zealand, the term 'Ugg Boots' generically to refer to a type of shoe – however, in the U.S. and many other countries, the term is trademarked as the intellectual property of Deckers. This has led to a raft of legal cases from both sides of the Pacific over the years as Australian shoe manufactures and resellers battle to do business in markets saturated by Deckers' products.
Understanding the importance of protecting your intellectual property rights overseas, especially in the U.S. market, has never been more important – and Alder IP are here to guide you.
Steps to protecting intellectual property overseas
IP Australia identifies a clear strategy that you need to take when setting out to expand your business overseas without raising issues similar to the Ugg debacle:
Plan your market entry: Planning how you will enter your new market is key to ensuring you understand the market place you are entering and the brand identity of your competitors. IP Australia notes the importance of realising that there is no 'world patent' – if you want to register a design or protect your trade secrets, you need to file separate national applications, or avail of the World Intellectual Property Organisation's services.
Know the local laws: Knowing the intellectual property laws of the countries you are expanding into should be obvious – but many businesses get caught out at the differences. For example, a Finance for Australian Exporters report show U.S. laws primarily protect rights as applicable to local or state markets, meaning you have to be meticulous in your research. Even if Australian businesses can prove the term Ugg is generic in their own market, and therefore not applicable to patent, they will struggle to navigate the various states' laws that will protect the use of the term.
While doing your own research is helpful to giving you a foundation in intellectual property laws, seeking specialist legal help is vital.
Seek legal help: While doing your own research first is helpful to giving you a foundation in intellectual property laws, seeking specialist legal help represents the best way of ensuring you don't get caught up in a complex and costly overseas intellectual property case.
Why Alder IP?
Alder IP, a NSW specialist firm, has years of legal expertise in the area of intellectual property, copyright laws and patenting. Working with clients from a variety of industries and backgrounds, protecting your business' vital intellectual property rights from issues overseas is where we excel.
Knowing and protecting your intellectual property rights overseas ensures that your business won't get into any Ugg-ly scenes over the use of a term or product integral to your brand identity. For more expert legal advice on protecting intellectual property rights overseas, contact the team at Alder IP today.