ACCC fines ugg boot marketer $25,000 for country of origin claims

A footwear wholesaler has copped $25,200 in penalties from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)  for allegedly selling Chinese-made sheepskin boots claimed to be authentically Australian Ugg boots.

The Classic Ugg boot footwear range was promoted by Ozwear Connection using a green and gold, label shaped like a map of Australia.

It included the words “this exclusive premium label is uniquely Australian owned brand for authentic Australian Ugg boots”.

ACCC issued two infringement notices for alleged false country of origin representations made about the Classic Ugg range.

Ozwear had claimed on its website between January and April this year it was “100 per cent Aussie owned” and its Classic Ugg range was made using “the best materials available in Australia”.

Prior to May 2018, Ozwear also used the green and gold, map-shaped shaped tag on products.

The ACCC said the representations created a false impression about Ozwear’s Classic Ugg footwear which was made in China.

“Ozwear’s conduct is unacceptable,” said ACCC deputy chairman, Mick Keogh.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses are prohibited from making claims that create a false impression about products being made in Australia.

“Country of origin representations can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses, as many consumers are willing to pay extra for Australian made products.”

“When false or misleading representations are made about a product being Australian made, consumers may end up paying more for no reason at all and businesses who are genuinely making their products in Australia lose out,” Mr Keogh said.

“Businesses are warned that making misleading claims or representations about a product’s country of origin will attract ACCC scrutiny and enforcement action.”

The ACCC has published a guidance for businesses making country of origin claims under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person or business has contravened certain provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act and the ACL.