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Australian ugg boot outlet maker Eddie Oygur loses bid for US supreme court appeal against Deckers

An Australian small business owner taken to court by an American retail giant over selling ugg boots online has had his petition to appeal rejected by the US supreme court.

Eddie Oygur and his company Australian Leather was sued by Deckers, which owns the trademark for UGG, for selling a dozen ugg boots in the United States.

Mr Oygur's legal team had argued that "ugg" has been a generic Australian term for sheepskin boots since the late 1960s and was therefore improperly trademarked in the United States.

Mr Oygur lost the case in 2019, and was ordered to pay US$450,000 ($643,500) in damages, after a jury found that his business wilfully infringed a trademark registered to Deckers Outdoor, by selling ugg boots online to customers in the US.

He then lost an appeal in May this year, where Deckers argued that Americans do not recognise "ugg" as a generic descriptive term, only a brand name.

"For terms in foreign countries, it's what US consumers think that matters," a Deckers lawyer put to the appeals court.

Mr Oygur then sought leave to appeal the decision in the US Supreme Court and received support from the Australian government.

But former South Australian senator Nick Xenophon, part of Mr Oygur's Australian legal team, announced today that the US Supreme Court had rejected the petition to hear the case.

Mr Xenophon told ABC Radio Adelaide's David Bevan that the avenues of appeal had been exhausted.

Play Audio. Duration: 4 minutes 19 seconds
Nick Xenophon speaks to ABC Radio Adelaide about ugg case

"Not only has he spent his entire life savings ... he now faces a bill of $3.4 million and if he doesn't cough that up he will be declared bankrupt, his company liquidated ... all for selling something that is quintessential Australian into the American market inadvertently," he said.

"We're not talking about selling thousands of pairs, we're talking about effectively nine pairs over six years."

Mr Xenophon said their argument was that "ugg" could not be trademarked in the US because it has been used as a generic term in Australia since the 1960s.

"The [Deckers] argument was that it doesn't apply, you know champagne, feta, gorgonzola, haloumi, all those generic terms in foreign, non-English speaking countries, doesn't apply to English-speaking countries," he said.

Mr Xenophon said the Australian government's support of Mr Oygur's appeal "was a pretty big deal".

"That's sending a signal saying this is not just an ordinary commercial case, this goes to issues of national interest, national consideration," he said.

Mr Oygur said he did not "get a fair go from the US legal system".

"I deserved my day in court, not just for me, but for Australia," he said.