How a ‘Counterfeit’ Supreme Brand Is Causing Collaboration Chaos

Supreme may be prolific with its brand collaborations, but the latest one to make headlines — a deal with Samsung, announced at the tech giant’s Galaxy A8s presentation in Beijing — is something else entirely.

According to a statement issued by the legendary New York City-based streetwear brand, the “Supreme” introduced on stage in China (iconic box logo and all) is actually a knockoff brand that has taken advantage of international trademark laws to piggyback off their namesake’s success.

“Supreme is not working with Samsung, opening a flagship location in Beijing or participating in a Mercedes-Benz runway show,” reads the statement. “These claims are blatantly false and propagated by a counterfeit organization.”

The organization in question, International Brand Firm, has registered the trademarks “Supreme Italia” in Italy and “Supreme Spain” in Spain, and earlier this year won a legal battle in an Italian court allowing it to continue selling products under the Supreme name, despite the New York brand’s protestations. It has been successful so far because the original Supreme didn’t register its own trademarks in the countries in question (nor did the brand distribute its products there) before others could beat it to the punch.

It’s unclear whether Samsung, which said at the event that its first collaborative item was planned for 2019, was aware that the co-CEOs it brought onto the stage at Monday’s event were, in fact, unaffiliated with one of the world’s most sought-after brands. Either way, as a publicity effort, the results have been massive: the topic has been viewed tens of millions of times on Weibo and generated international headlines.

Samsung, for its part, issued a statement on Wednesday via Weibo that seems to indicate that the collaboration may not be moving forward after all: “Recently, Samsung Electronics announced at the launch of the Galaxy A8s that it will cooperate with Supreme Italia in the Chinese market. We are currently reevaluating this cooperation and we deeply regret the inconvenience caused.”

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