Ugg Parent Sues Walmart and Other Retailers for Allegedly Copying Popular Boot Design

Samantha McDonald

Deckers Outdoor Corp. is going to court over Ugg’s popular fleece-lined boots.

The footwear maker and distributor filed two separate lawsuits on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California — one against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kmart Corp. and another versus Aeropostale Inc. Each complaint accused the defendants of patent infringement, trade dress infringement and unfair competition. It further alleged that the retailers used the California-founded brand’s sheepskin shoe design without permission

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In the complaints, Deckers Brands — also parent to Teva, Sanuk and Hoka One One — claimed that the retailers willfully infringed on Ugg’s designs “in an effort to exploit Deckers’ reputation in the market.” The suits read that Walmart, Kmart and Aeropostale’s alleged acts “have misled and confused and were intended to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection or association” of the allegedly copied products.

The shoes in question, Ugg’s Bailey Button boots, hit shelves in 2009 and is one of the brand’s most popular footwear silhouettes. (The classic suede boot features overlapped front and rear panels on the lateral side of the shaft, with curved top edges and exposed fleece lining.) They are also available in a triple-button version and another comes in a shorter shaft height.

“Due to its long use, extensive sales and significant advertising and promotional activities, Deckers’ Bailey Button boot trade dress has achieved widespread acceptance and recognition among the consuming public,” the company wrote in the complaint against Walmart and Kmart. “There are numerous other boot designs in the footwear industry, none of which necessitate copying or imitating the Bailey Button boot trade dress.”

Deckers Brands also filed a separate lawsuit against CVS Pharmacy Inc. on Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court alleging that the healthcare retailer sold a style that infringed on Sanuk’s Yoga Sling sandal. (The shoe features a thong-type silhouette with fabric string straps on a flat footbed.)

The company is seeking injunctive relief and punitive damages as well as the removal of the allegedly copied products from Walmart, Kmart and Aeropostale’s inventories.

FN has reached out to all involved parties. A Kmart spokesperson declined comment.

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