Famous streetwear brand Supreme filed a criminal case against International Brand Firm Ltd. (IBF) and its owner Michele di Pierro. Now both he and his son, Marcello, have been found guilty of fraud.
As reported by The Fashion Law, Michele di Piero will serve eight years behind bars, while his son will serve three. The English Court also required IBF to pay £7.5 million in monetary damages to Supreme. Circuit Judge Martin Beddoe said the pair, “hijacked every aspect of [Supreme’s] identity and plagiarised it” and added that the operation was “brazen”, “offensive”, and riddled with “dishonesty.”
Michele and Marcello were not in court and arrest warrants have been “reissued following the sentencing,” according to Bloomberg. Michele di Piero did make a statement after the sentence saying that Supreme’s efforts are “a very grave and unjustified assault” and involves “absurd, unfounded, and slanderous allegations of counterfeiting registered trademarks.”
What the di Pierro’s were doing was, essentially, sell counterfeit Supreme items from countries that Supreme didn’t have a physical presence in. Supreme purposefully sell very limited runs of items in its brand-owned and operated stores. There are less than a dozen Supreme stores in the world because of their very deliberate and measured expansion strategy.
Supreme Italia used this to their advantage. Some countries have first-to-file trademark systems which means that intellectual property bodies issue trademarks to the first person to simply file an application rather than the first person to actually use the mark in commerce. IBF did this by applying for the trademark in San Marino which has the first-to-file system. IBF tried to spin the facts by calling their products “legal fakes.”
What is meant by legal fakes is a process by which “a legal copy of a brand, where ‘legal’ indicates that the fake brand is a trademark registered in a country where the original mark has yet to be launched,” according to Italian trademark attorney Silvia Grazioli.
This has no basis in law in any country and is entirely meaningless. You will only find reference to the term in relation to Supreme Italia.
This case has been a part of a much larger effort by Supreme that started years ago to strengthen international trademark enforcement. This has been largely successful and this case provides a landmark for those at Supreme.