A father-son pair was sent to jail after using their British holding company, International Brand Firm (IBF), to open fake Supreme stores in Italy and Spain. They had filed for trademarks in multiple countries around Europe and Asia in order to take advantage of loopholes that would allow them to sell “legal fakes” of the coveted merchandise.
The New-York based streetwear brand was started in 1994 by James Jebbia, and has no affiliation with IBF. Throughout its 27-year existence, the apparel line has operated less than a dozen stores, and sells limited quantities in the ones that are exclusively owned and operated by Supreme.
IBF was able to register trademarks in Italy and Spain due to jurisdictional variations in their trademark laws, which are different around the world. Some countries us the first-to-file trademark system where trademarks are given to the first person to file, rather than the first-to-use system where trademarks are given to the first person to use in commerce. Supreme was not registered in those countries occupied by IBF, which is what gave IBF their opportunity.
The duo, Michele Di Pierro and his son, Marcelo, was found guilty on two counts of fraud and ordered to pay Supreme $10.4 million in damages. Michele was sentenced to eight years in jail while Marcelo was sentenced to three.
This operation resulted in the confiscation of around 120,000 fake Supreme items, and has been labeled one of the “most important multi-jurisdiction civil enforcement operations in recent years.”