Ugg boots and the trademark lawsuit over generic Australian footwear. : Planet Money : NPR

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 23: UGG boots on display at an event introducing Hailey Baldwin for UGG Classic Street on August 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for UGG)

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for UGG


hide caption

toggle caption

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for UGG


NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 23: UGG boots on display at an event introducing Hailey Baldwin for UGG Classic Street on August 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for UGG)

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for UGG

UGG. Just the word itself conjures the scent of pumpkin spice lattes, the sounds of leaves rustling, the feel of an autumn breeze.

But that word – ugg – is also at the center of an international trademark dispute between one Australian businessman named Eddie Oygur and the Deckers Outdoor Corporation, which owns the Ugg brand. Because, for Australians, “ugg” is not just a particular brand of boot. It is a generic category of footwear, like cowboy boots or flip flops. And when Deckers took Eddie to court for trademark infringement after he sold 12 pairs of boots to American customers online, Eddie decided he was going to fight back hard.

It’s the story of how Ugg went from a cozy niche in the world of footwear to an icon of basic culture, and what it tells us about this system where everyday words can be fenced off as private property and the force threatening every trademark in existence.

Music: “Pyramid Thoughts” “Sneaky Eyes“and”Mambo Dramedy.”

Find us: Twitter / Facebook / instagram / TikTok / Youtube

Get bonus episodes of Planet Money by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts gold at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts and NPR One.

In a great example of selection bias, since you’re still reading, we might assume you love reading – in which case, subscribe to our Newsletter!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.