Supreme has been fighting counterfeiters for years all over the world, and it's finally won a crucial battle in China. The Chinese Trademark Office officially gave approval to the New York streetwear brand in January, as first reported by WWD, the culmination of a six-year effort. It's already paying dividends, as the notorious fake Supreme store in Shanghai has been shuttered.
According to research by the online marketing firm SEM-Rush, Supreme has been the most searched brand for fakes for three years running. In the U.S. alone, "fake Supreme" averaged nearly 14,000 searches per month in 2019. Vans, the next closest search, averages just over 8,000.
Supreme vs. Supreme Italia — The primary antagonist in Supreme's efforts to secure its trademark across the globe has been International Brand Firm, aka IBF. The British firm scooped up rights to Supreme's name and logo in several countries, including China and Italy, and operated under the name Supreme Italia. IBF took advantage of China's first-to-file system and opened stores in Beijing and Shanghai, with plans to open 70 more throughout the world.
Samsung even announced an official collaboration with Supreme in 2018, while making no initial mention of it actually being with Supreme Italia. Backlash ensued, of course, and Samsung eventually canceled the partnership months later.
The victory in China isn't the brand's first against its whack-a-mole imitator. Prior to Supreme getting its own trademark in China, it was officially stripped from Supreme Italia last summer. And in November, Supreme won an appeal after the European Union's Intellectual Property Office initially denied its right to pursue a trademark for the brand name. However, the EU hasn't yet granted the trademark to Supreme — the ruling only allowed the brand to go forward with its application.
James Jebbia has actually spoken out about it — Both Supreme and its founder James Jebbia are notoriously press-shy, but the fight with Supreme Italia was enough to get Jebbia to grant a rare interview.
"This is a whole new level with this criminal enterprise — these complete imposters and impersonators, he told Business of Fashion. "People should know that the idea of legal fakes is a complete farce. It would be sad if a new generation thinks that’s actually legit. We don’t do a ton of press and we are quite quiet. These guys are taking full advantage of that."
Now, with Supreme fighting back, "these guys" are finally being slowed down.