Ugg Sued Walmart Two Months Ago; Now It’s Suing Target

Two months after Deckers Outdoor Corp. sued Walmart for allegedly copying its popular Ugg boot design, the sheepskin shoemaker’s parent company is attempting to take two other major retail players to court.

Late last week in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Deckers filed suit against Target Corp. and Iconix Brand Group for trade dress infringement and unfair competition as well as patent infringement over the design of its Bailey Button boots. It brought the same allegations against the companies over the use of Sanuk’s Yoga Sling design.

In the lawsuit, the Goleta, Calif.-based manufacturer claimed that the big-box chain and the brand management firm “have designed, manufactured, advertised, marketed, distributed, offered for sale and/or sold accused products that bear designs almost identical to” both Ugg’s Bailey Button boots trade dress and Sanuk’s Yoga Sling sandals.

Deckers — also parent to outdoor shoe brand Teva and sneaker maker Hoka One One — wrote in the lawsuit that Target and Iconix willfully infringed on Ugg’s and Sanuk’s designs “in an effort to exploit Deckers’ reputation in the market.”

Debuted in 2009, Ugg’s Bailey Button boot has become one of the brand’s most popular footwear silhouettes. The classic suede shoes feature overlapped front and rear panels on the lateral side of the shaft, with curved top edges and exposed fleece lining.

“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 suit. “There are numerous other boot designs in the footwear industry, none of which necessitate copying or imitating the Bailey Button boot trade dress.”

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling sandal — a thong-type shoe with fabric sling and instep straps — hit shelves in 2013. According to the complaint, the style serves as one of the brand’s most “commercially successful” silhouettes.

Deckers is seeking injunctive relief and punitive damages as well as the removal of the allegedly copied products from Target’s and Iconix’s brand inventories.

“Deckers has expended substantial time, resources and effort to obtain an excellent reputation for its Ugg and Sanuk brands of footwear,” the filing read. “As a result of Deckers’ efforts, [the] defendants are now unjustly enriched and are benefiting from property rights that rightfully belong to Deckers.”

At the end of May, Deckers filed two lawsuits — one against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kmart Corp. as well as another versus Aeropostale Inc. — alleging that the retailers used Ugg’s sheepskin shoe design without permission. It also filed a separate lawsuit against CVS Pharmacy Inc. in Los Angeles federal court, claiming that the healthcare retailer sold a style that infringed on Sanuk’s Yoga Sling sandal.

It’s not the first time Deckers has sued Target over Ugg’s Bailey Button boots. In September 2016, Deckers accused the Minneapolis-headquartered retailer — along with companies including J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Muk Luks parent company Reliable Knitting Works — of selling knockoffs of the shoes.

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