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What is Supreme Italia? A brief guide

An overview to get you up to speed from Puglia to China

What is Supreme Italia? A brief guide An overview to get you up to speed from Puglia to China

Since the beginning nss has been closely following the ongoing and rising story of Supreme Italia, the legitimately fake Supreme brand. Supreme Italia is a firm owned by IBF (International Brand Firm) that produces t-shirts and various products that look extremely similar to the Supreme NYC brand, yet are getting away with it. This is linked to a complex web of trademarks registrations, that goes from a small village in Puglia to one of the biggest cities in China. With the twist and turns now having grown to such an extent that the story is spreading worldwide, we felt it best to give you a quick guide to all the facts and steps of the case.

 

Beginnings

- Though the roots stretch back further, for our purposes the story begins around 2011-2012 when the first steps of Supreme Italia are taken. Seeing a market hungry for products they can't easily get, a small handful of entrepreneurs decide to take matters into their own hands. 

- In early November 2015, Supreme Italia officially launches from a small town, Barletta in Southern, Italy where production ensues and Supreme Italia simultaneously sends a trademark registration request to UIBM (the Italian Patent and Trademark Office) as the New York Supreme brand is still in the registration process having only started the process a month before due to internal issues at Supreme, i.e. they slept on it.

 - January 14, 2016, the first public awareness is reached through an Instagram post by the influencer @Milangeles who posts a pic of the merchandise during the Pitti Uomo fair where kids are seen wearing the brand and nss’ breaks the story shortly thereafter.

 

Legal Battles

- After a shorter period of commerce, the first round of legal battles start and over the next two years various court decision impact the case and can be summed up as follows:

- On April 20th 2017, the Milan Tribunal finds Supreme Italia's conduct as "parasitic competition" and votes in favor of Supreme New York. Ordering the immediate stop of all production, marketing and selling of Supreme Italia merchandise. Raids are even conducted by police and Supreme Italia products are seized and the company is placed under a "supervision order of inhibitory” which is a bit like being placed in limbo. 

         

- In May of this year, The European Unions Intellectual Property Office refuses to register the New York Supreme trademark, citing “Supreme’s” descriptive nature and lack of distinctive character. With the word Supreme being perceived only as an appreciative promotional message, unsuitable to identify a commercial origin. Another court ruling follows from the Italian Trani courts that in practicality absolves Supreme Italia, releasing the seized items and freeing up their website

 

The Spread

- After the courts decision in favor of Supreme Italia, the company switches shores and set’s up shop in Spain as Supreme Spain and files itself at the Spanish patent office OEPM and becomes trademarked under the WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, where the New York Supreme brand is not and Supreme Spain can now legally conduct its business and opens flagship stores in Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza and on the island of Formentera, most of which are still open and selling Supreme Spain.

- Here things start to really take off, with a now legal Supreme brand in hand, registration starts around EU and is currently being processed in a number of EU countries. The biggest mall in Stockholm, Sweden even starts stocking and selling Supreme Spain/Italia products for a while until it's shown to not be the Original New York brand.

 

Which takes us to the present and the announcement of Samsung’s backing of Supreme Italia and its plans to help sell the brand in China and perhaps beyond its borders. Whatever personal views you may have, the law here has spoken and Supreme Italia is not yet legally registered in China, but it's free to do business because Supreme NY doesn't hold a trademark and it does not even shop products. The interesting question here returns back to street level and becomes a problem of the privilege of knowing that these are not the original NY brand. If most people can't see the difference and you basically can't get the original even if you wanted to, what choice do you have if you don’t want to completely opt out of a huge facet of contemporary popular culture that streetwear now is, and then Samsung's wrong becomes more a matter of perspective.

Be sure that we haven't heard the end of this story yet and stay locked to nss for all the updates on the Supreme Italia Saga.