The appeal was part of a five-year legal saga involving Mr Oygur and his business, who were both sued by multi-billion US company Deckers in 2016 over the sale of 13 pairs of Ugg boots into the US.
Deckers – a $13 billion footwear giant, known for aggressively protecting its ‘UGG trademark’ – initially sought to seize Australian Leather’s stock of Ugg boots and freeze its bank accounts.
Mr Oygur and Australian Leather fought back, obtaining expert evidence from around the world that the term ‘Ugg’ – a particular style of sheepskin boot – was already a popular term in Australia in the 1960s. It became a generic term throughout the US in the late 1960s when Australian Ugg boots were exported there.
Deckers has not been able to obtain the Ugg trademark in Australia and New Zealand, because of its widespread recognition as a generic term.
But a US Federal Court trial in May, 2019, found Mr Oygur and Australian Leather had breached the Deckers trademark and fined them $643,000 for intellectual property breaches as well as ordering $3.5 million in legal fees against them, in addition to their own legal costs.
His lawyers, including former Australian senator Nick Xenophon, were confident after last week’s hearing in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC.
But overnight they said they were “gobsmacked” after the appeal was rejected with no reasons given.
Mr Oygur remained defiant and pledged to continue his legal battle.
“I have no choice but to take this all the way to the US Supreme Court,” Mr Oygur said, urging the Federal Government to back him.
“It has cost thousands of Australian jobs because Ugg boots should be made here rather than overseas, which is where Deckers makes them.”
The appeal court was told Australia Leather’s argument that a rule of US trademark law — the doctrine of foreign equivalents — meant Deckers should not have been able to trademark Ugg in the US decades ago.
Deckers argued the doctrine was not relevant because Americans did not recognise Ugg as a descriptive term, only a brand name.