Deckers Outdoor Corp. filed suit in United States District Court in the Central District of California against Tom Romeo and Romeo & Juliette, Inc. d/b/a Bearpaw, Inc. seeking a Court order to stop them from copying the trade dress design of several UGG boots.
According to Angel Martinez, Deckers Chairman and CEO, in a statement, “UGG Australia's success has fueled an entire industry of knock-off products like Bearpaw. Bearpaw is misleading consumers and creating significant brand confusion by repeatedly copying our designs, but using inferior materials, constructions and craftsmanship.”
Deckers said it has been manufacturing and selling UGG Australia boots since purchasing the company from Brian Smith, an Australian who had a love for surfing and saw the value in bringing to market a high-quality brand of sheepskin boots that surfers could wear after a long day in the cold water. UGG Australia was first distributed in the U.S. in 1978; at the time of acquisition in 1995, sales of the brand were $17 million.
In the fifteen years since, UGG Australia has expanded both its production and distribution dramatically, adding new products and new lines, including a broad assortment of footwear, outerwear, handbags and accessories, and opening 25 company-owned UGG Australia retail stores worldwide. Sales are expected to exceed $800 million in 2010.
Martinez adds, “The strong bond between UGG Australia and its retail customers and consumers goes beyond commerce; it's about trust. That trust is our most important asset, and it's based on an unerring consistency in product quality and branding as well as a commitment to evolve the brand continuously and smartly. Knock-off companies and counterfeiters are confusing the consumers and betraying their trust.”
Deckers Outdoor also owns Teva, Simple Shoes, Tsubo, Ahnu and Mozo.