The Australian Made Campaign (AMCL) is warning shoppers to exercise caution when purchasing their favourite sheepskin footwear online after it uncovered a chain of misleading websites selling ugg boots manufactured in China as Australian made.
The Australian registered company involved cloned the website of local manufacturer ‘Original Ugg Boots’ – a producer of genuine Australian sheepskin footwear – and created more than 30 websites offering boots which they claimed were made in a Melbourne factory with genuine Australian sheepskin. They further falsely claimed to be licensed to carry the Australian Made logo and to be members of the Australian Sheepskin Association.
Boots purchased by unsuspecting customers via the counterfeit websites arrived direct from a Chinese address bearing ‘Made in China’ tags. The boots were made from cowhide and synthetic materials with no sheepskin in them at all.
“Australia has an excellent reputation for producing quality products and produce, which makes us a target for copycat manufacturers and frauds,” AMCL Deputy Chief Executive, Ben Lazzaro said.
“We condemn the use of country of origin claims that are intended to mislead and confuse consumers, particularly when those claims involve unauthorised use of the Australian Made logo.”
Image caption: Chinese made fake sheepskin boots obtained by AMCL
AMCL submitted digital trademark infringement notices to the hosting companies of the websites, successfully resulting in the removal of the Australian Made logo from many of the sites. Further legal action has resulted in deregistration of the business and subsequently the cancelation of all websites.
The infringement has been referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and AMCL will continue to work with key industry bodies such as the Australian Sheepskin Association (ASA), to enforce clear and accurate country-of-origin branding across the industry.
“In recent times there have been a number of organisations and individuals trying to use the reputation of the AMCL and ASA to deceive consumers both locally and overseas. The ASA has been in cooperation with the AMCL and ACCC on identifying those organisations,” Australian Sheepskin Association Secretary, Michael Kaper, said.
“At the same time the ASA is trying to educate the public through correct product labelling to give consumers confidence in identifying genuine Australian Made sheepskin footwear.”
AMCL urges shoppers impacted by the counterfeit websites to report their experience to the ACCC and contact their bank or Paypal to request a reversal of funds.