Online trader Marksun Australia has been penalised $430,000 for engaging in false and misleading conduct including $100,000 for unauthorised use of the Australian Made logo, following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in the Federal Court in Perth.
Marksun promoted the Chinese made ugg boots via a registered trade mark ‘Marksun Products Ugg Boots from Australia’, the statement ‘Made in Australia from Australia Wool’, silhouette images of wombats and kangaroos, images of the Australian flag and Sydney Opera House and the official green and gold Australian Made logo.
In his judgment, Justice Gilmour said the conduct was deliberate and dishonest.
“The overall character of the conduct in promoting goods that are entirely made in China was calculated to apply a veneer of ‘Australian-ness’ or ‘Australia washing’,” he said.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said this matter highlights the need for businesses to be particularly careful when they are promoting their products to ensure the promotional material does not represent the product as something it is not.
“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,” Samuel said.
“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.
“The ACCC will continue to monitor advertising of this nature to ensure compliance with the Act.”
In addition to the penalties, Justice Gilmour made orders that Marksun be permanently prevented from engaging in similar conduct, publish a notice on the homepage of each website on which it promotes its ugg boot, setting out the court's orders and pay the ACCC's costs.