Ugg boot on other foot after fine
Online trader Marksun Australia was found guilty by the Federal Court in Perth last week of engaging in false and misleading conduct and has been penalised to the tune of $430,000.
The court action, brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), was in relation to the company’s promotion of ugg boots as being Australian made when in fact they were wholly manufactured in China. Marksun used the registered trademark “Marksun Products Ugg Boots from Australia” and the statement “Made in Australia from Australia Wool” in the marketing of the boots in an attempt at Australia-washing, described in the judgement described as deliberate and dishonest.
Iconic Australian landmarks, symbols and native wildlife were also used misleadingly. The Sydney Opera House and the national flag adorned promotional materials, and images of wombats and kangaroos provided a fuzzy marsupial face to this tragedy.
Of the total fine, $100,000 was for the unauthorised use of the green and gold Australian Made logo, which is controlled by the Australian Made Campaign.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said businesses should be particularly careful when it comes to country of origin claims. “The ACCC considers country of origin claims to be a particularly valuable marketing tool for businesses as many consumers place a premium on goods that are Australian made. This outcome serves as a timely reminder that the ACCC will not hesitate to take action against businesses which mislead consumers about the origin of the goods they are selling,” Samuel warned.
Compared to previous incidents, this latest case was relatively straightforward. In 2008 Creswick Woollen Mills admitted to making false Australian Made claims about its merino wool blankets. The blankets were cut and sewn in Australia, but the spinning and weaving took place in China, contravening the Trade Practices Act 1974 which requires substantial transformation and at least 50 percent of the cost of manufacturing to take place in Australia in order for the Australian Made logo to be used.