Monday, 7 December 2020

Deckers v Australian Leather (Ugg case)

Unfortunately, we went down hard in our US ugg case - a jury verdict of $US450,000 for the trademark violation and legal costs $US2m.

Just to give you an idea of how crazy the verdicts were, Eddie sold 13 pairs of ugg boots into the US and two pairs of socks at a total value of $A2123. Given that $907 of those purchases were made by Deckers the actual damage suffered was only $A1216. That means the damages award was 500 times the damage actually suffered. We filed a post trial motion asking the judge to reduce the jury verdict as unreasonable which was rejected.

In relation to legal costs, in the US costs do not follow the event. A successful party only gets back their legal costs if they can show it was an exceptional case- eg a case with absolutely no merit which has been pursued in spite of prior warnings. In this case, Deckers never sent a cease and desist but commenced legal proceedings without notice. We also survived a summary dismissal and made it to trial. The judge decided the case was exceptional because it was wilful. Hard to understand how wilfulness makes a trademark case exceptional!

Anyway, given the verdicts were so outrageous we have appealed the case to the US Court of Appeals.

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