Supreme Italia trademarks are stripped in China

Fashion brand Supreme has won a crucial trademark dispute in China against a company it accuses of copying its brand.

The China Trade Mark Office (CTMO) has revoked trademarks registered to Supreme Italia, which has been described as a “legal fake” business posing as the fashionable US streetwear brand. Earlier this year Samsung severed ties with Supreme Italia after it emerged that the company had no link to the US brand.

According to a report in The Drum, Supreme Italia had held two registered trademarks in China for ITSupremeNow, but these have now been stripped after a legal action from Supreme US, which accuses it of defrauding Chinese consumers.

The concept of legal fake is a relatively new phenomenon in the clothing sector, and involves entities exploiting a country’s first-to-file trademark laws to usurp intellectual property by the original brand, allowing them to copy the brand’s products with impunity. Other companies accused of operating as legal fakes include Pyrex Original, Kith Official and Boy London Italia.

China has new trademark legislation coming into force on November 1 that aims to combat what is known as “bad faith” IP activity, where entities seek to claim ownership of an established brand. The new legislation – announced in April – came in earlier than expected and also includes an increase in the amount of damages that can be awarded in trademark infringement cases.

The development comes just a couple of weeks after Supreme Italia opened a second store in China to sell its clothing. The Shanghai shop uses branding that is practically indistinguishable from Supreme US’s storefronts, including an almost identical logo.

Supreme founder James Jebbia, told Business of Fashion in April that “this is a whole new level with this criminal enterprise - these complete imposters and impersonators.”

Supreme Italia, along with sister company Supreme Spain, is owned by UK-registered company International Brand Firm (IBF) and has insisted it sells its own products, protected by its own trademarks, in the countries in which it operates.

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