It is the legal fight that has sparked the phenomena of “legal fake” goods, whereby copycat businesses have earned a strong profit by ‘out-trademarking’ the original brands. Late last year, reports were published suggesting that streetwear king Supreme New York had lost its court case to be a registered trademark within the European Union, thanks to fake counterpart Supreme Italia. Essentially exploiting the original brand, it appeared that Supreme Italia was getting away with selling blatant copycat merchandise throughout Spain and China, though new reports suggest they may be losing the battle after all.
Following the Samsung scandal and the new Shanghai brick-and-mortar store set to open in Supreme Italia’s name, the shady brand has reportedly lost its trademarks within China. According to The Drum, the brand which is owned by International Brand Firm Limited (IBF) will have its two trademarks for “ITSupremeNow” stripped by the China Trade Mark Office (CTMO). The decision comes as Supreme New York claims that the IBF-owned brand was “defrauding Chinese consumers and misleading law enforcement, reporters, and even global companies like Samsung by setting up a copycat retail store.”
While the New York label has none of its own trademarks in China, the CTMO database does show that they have 85 applications currently pending. Like many countries – though whether it is help or hindrance – China is said to favour the first company to apply for a registered trademark.
“In mainland China, trademark protection mainly adopts a first-to-file principle, say, those who first apply for and register the marks have the legal ownership over the marks,” Melanie Zhu, principal, at Rouse Consultancy, a global IP consultancy, told The Drum. “Of course, when there are trademark disputes means to help the genuine owners to retrieve the marks if the marks are preemptively registered by bad faith squatters.”
What this recent move means for Supreme Italia is not exactly known as of yet, particularly as the company gears up for its store opening in Shanghai. Nevertheless, it is finally a win for Supreme New York founder James Jebbia and his extensive legal team.
Stay tuned for further developments.