Sheepskin footwear seller pays $10,800 penalty for alleged false or misleading ‘Australian made’ representation

Sheepskin footwear seller pays $10,800 penalty for alleged false or misleading ‘Australian made’ representation

Kingdom Groups International Pty Ltd (Kingdom) has paid a penalty of $10,800 following the issue of an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Kingdom had  breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by making a false or misleading representation on its website about the country of origin of its footwear branded ‘UGG® Aries Sheepskin Australia’.

Kingdom’s Aries Sheepskin website featured images of the Australian Made logo attached to Aries Sheepskin footwear, as well as statements that the footwear was ‘truly Australian made’, and manufactured in ‘Junee, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory’.

The ACCC was concerned that the statements and images on the Aries Sheepskin website represented to consumers that the Aries Sheepskin footwear products were manufactured in Australia, when in fact they were made in China.

“The Australian Made logo is well recognised and relied upon by consumers. The ACCC was concerned that it had been used to give consumers the impression that a product was made in Australia, when it was not,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

A ring of Ugg boots displaying the Australian made logo

“Country of origin claims are a particularly valuable marketing tool for businesses, as many consumers place a premium on goods that are Australian made.  In circumstances where consumers must rely on labels to identify where a product is made, it is particularly important that suppliers ensure that any country of origin claims they make are true.”

The ACCC’s investigation commenced following a complaint from Australian Made Campaign Ltd that Kingdom was using the Australian Made logo on products on its website.

The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ACL. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.

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