February 19, 2004

Ugg boots What do people think about trademaking generic words?

The 'orrible Aussie ugg boot can't be sold under that name in the States,

  • Should be overturned in court. Too bad for Deckers, but they bought a name that should never have been tradmarked in the first place. Of course, any potential sympathy was lost when I found out that among the producers that Deckers has decided to sue is a charitable organisation. Solution? If the courts refuse to see reason, boycott Deckers. I'd never heard of these boots before this post, but now if I ever buy a pair, it won't be from Deckers. I'll find some member of that Ugg Boot Footwear Association online, and buy from them.
  • "If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble,..."the law is a ass -- a idiot." Trademarks which run afoul of publicly established and widely known word usage deserve to be made the butt of jokes and jeered repeatedly and publicly, at the very least. This reminds me of the contention a few years back between the McDonalds restaurant chain and members of the clan McDonald -- and eventually the latter did win their case. There was some talk of a countersuit but I don't know if anything ever came of that.
  • You'll only get my wife's Ugg
  • *adds deckers to list of companies i'll never buy from*
  • The website for Australian Sheepskin Association Incorporated, with a list of some independent manufacturers, including the aforesaid charitable organisation (Westhaven, at the bottom). goetter - I understand you and your wife's appreciation of your Deckers boots. It's just a shame that a company that, as you say, has a good product has decided to have such distasteful business practices. They should have trademarked an original name if they wished it to be theirs alone. They even deceived the US trademark people - from the website: "In 1986, when the examining attorney at the US Patent and Trademark Office asked some additional questions, she was told "There is no significance of the term "UGG" in the relevant trade or industry". Given this mark suggests that the product originates from Australia, you would expect that some sort of search was taken in Australia to determine the validity of whether "UGG" was or wasn't significant!"
  • Interesting quote, JB. That means they filed their trademark application fraudulently, becuase there clearly -was- a significance to the term Ugg. I remember, a few years back, a guy who had trademarked 'Year 2000' and used it to build an entire product line and keep others from competing. In my mind, this kind of thing is a clear perversion of what trademark law should be. Trademarks should be used to stop other people manufacturing inferior products which soil your name and to allow customers to seek out your products specifically. They should not be used to dupe customers into buying your products or prevent customers from finding your competators. To my mind, this sort of thing seems to fall into a general pattern of governments being too willing to grant exclusive rights to intelectual property which clearly belongs in the public domiain. Trademark on generic terms are very much akin to pattents on common or obvious ideas or on well known natural phenomenon. Essentially, what we are seing today is a crippling of the intelectual property system as a result of the appliction of very high user fees. These systems seem to be set up to give the applicant the benefit of the doubt, until somebody actually comes along to chalenge the application. This seems a perfectly fine and logical way to go about it. However, there has now been an inordinate cost added to the application process as well as the process of challenging a dubious trademark or pattent. This has two bad effects: firstly it means that ordinary people can't protect themselves using pattents, becuase only large businesses and the very rich can afford to take them out. Secondly, it means that if somebody takes out a pattent or trademark over you head, you can't challenge them unless you have lots of money. In both these cases, modern intelectual property systems are failing to create a level playing field and encouraging spurious property grabs by people who feel they have enough money to get away with it.
  • hrm. yet another example of how trademark law is broken in the US. stuff like this, overextended patents, etc. makes me angry. pipe dream: for legal issues in general i keep thinking it would be nice to limit the legal expense fund in a court case to the amount of cash available to the least well-heeled person involved. that way any average person could actually stand a fair chance against a large company. and, if the large company objected and wanted to spend more, they'd have to make up the difference for the other party concerned. you want a fancy expensive lawyer? well, if the other guy can't afford it, you can't either, unless you're willing to help foot the bill. if there was a better chance of equal standing in the courtroom, there'd be less of this type of garbage happening to private citizens and cottage industries.
  • Ugh, indeed. I'm a little unclear on how a US trademark can be enforced within Australia.
  • >"How about Surfers' Sheepskin Boots house shoes?" he suggests. Was told by an Australian with an added laugh, their original use was for indoors when she saw them on the high shool surfers.
  • thomcatspike - oddly enough that's what my brother said about birkenstocks when he was in germany. he was buying a pair, the sales clerk was laughing at americans for wearing "bedroom slippers" in public.
  • "trademaking". Craparoonie, I only just picked that up. D'oh!
  • Sweet Victory!
  • This is very good news - here's a non-pay link on the decision.