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Supreme wins China trademark battle against counterfeiter

Fashion label Supreme has won a fight against a copycat company using a similar brand name in Mainland China.

The Drum reports that according to records from the China Trade Mark Office (CTMO), Supreme Italia, the counterfeit business, has lost its registered trademarks in China relating to ITSupremeNow.

The copycat Chinese business has long been a thorn in the side of the legitimate brand. South Korean electronics company Samsung found itself attracting unwanted attention after it knowingly partnered with Supreme Italia in a promotion on the mainland late last year.

The Italian firm uses an almost identical logo to the American brand that is protected by local laws, reportedly allowing it to see “legally fake” goods. A legal challenge mounted by Supreme NYC earlier this year was unsuccessful.

According to the CTMO, Supreme US does not currently own any registered trademarks in China. However, the database shows the brand has 85 trademark applications, all of which are pending.

Supreme Italia, owned by International Brand Firm, has opened two retail stores in Shanghai using a logo almost identical to the authorised one, and selling official Supreme products believed to be sourced from the grey market, including collaborative ranges such as Rimowa x Supreme.

Melanie Zhu, a principal at global IP specialists Rouse Consultancy, told The Drum, that Chinese trademark law has traditionally favoured the first company to register a trademark.

“Trademark protection is territorial, a mark registered in the US is not automatically protected in other countries, and the owner has to go through the trademark application procedure to seek the protection of the mark in other jurisdictions.

“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. 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,” she said.

New trademark laws, scheduled to take effect this November, are intended to counter “bad faith issues” and should help legitimate brands protect their interests when they find their trademarks have been registered by squatters or counterfeiters.

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