Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm "Supreme Bitch!" Supreme vs Married to the Mob. Oh the Irony

Rihanna wearing a Supreme Bitch hat
Here at Fashion Legallaire, we love a good fashion law fight. Why? Because soon, justice will be served. Either in a settlement or in court. Today's fight is a $20 million law suit over the T-shirt design "Supreme Bitch" and is brought to you by Supreme and Married to the Mob, two casual fashion gurus in their own right. Sticking to fashion law roots, this fight is a common intellectual property battle over trademark rights.

The Scoop: In 2004 Married to the Mob (M to M) bore the brand "Supreme Bitch" for it's first brand collection. The logo, which celebrates male-dominated streetwear subculture has been a celebrated for over 10 years. However, Supreme founder James Jebbia says that MtoM's t-shirt design infringes on his trademark rights.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! IRONICALLY, when M to M initially released his shirt, Jebbia stocked it in his store. And as any initial start up fashion company should and would do (see article on forming a fashion start-up business), M to M has a filed trademark application for Supreme Bitch, New York Magazine Reports.  And even though it was only about 2 weeks ago (ha!), she still filed it.

M to M founder Leah McSweeney has publicly responded via her blog in response to Jebbia's accusations:

As some of you may have heard, Supreme is suing me for $10 million over my “Supreme Bitch” design. I’ve been using this design since the first MOB collection in summer 2004. I even sold it as a tee at Union, a store owned and managed by Supreme’s founder James Jebbia, who gave the design his blessing. Now, he’s claiming that the design infringes his trademark rights.
Unlike some companies that blatantly rip-off other brand logos, Married To The Mob has always had its own identity and aesthetic by being an extension of my life experiences. I started this company when I was 22 and have come a long way without a piggyback ride from anyone.
Supreme Bitch is one design of many; one slogan of many. And the use of the design has always been to make fun of the misogynistic vibe of Supreme and the boys who wear it.
Bottom line is this: I don’t think Supreme should be able to squash free speech or my right to utilize parody in my design aesthetic. It’s one of the most powerful ways for me to comment on the boy’s club mentality that’s pervasive in the streetwear/skater world. The fact that Supreme is coming after MOB and me personally is just another example of the hostility that MOB — the first women’s street wear brand — has faced from Day 1. And it’s why the Supreme Bitch message is so important.
Civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel agreed to take my case and act as co-counsel along with Edward Rosenthal of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC, a law firm that specializes in trademark issues. This isn’t a fight I went out looking for, but I have no choice other than to fight back. Because right now, it’s about more than just a t-shirt!

So we carry the "enemies" t-shirt line in our store for a 10 years and then sue? Well  that doesn't make sense. Unless Jebbia is indirectly saying that he didn't believe that M to M would thrive as the successful line that it is now. Oh that's exactly what he said. According to NY Mag, Supreme says, "M to M's shirts aren't just logo appropriation, they are trying to build her whole brand by piggybacking off Supreme." Further Supreme founder Jebbia thought was just going to be a shirt turned into towels, hats, mugs, and mouse pads. Jebbia has since demanded M to M remove the offending items from retailers such as Karmaloop and Urban Outfitters. Now who is offending who?

Also, NY mag also reports that Mcsweeney says she does not have $250,000 to litigate this case and Jebbia knows that. Jebbia could just be playing his chess pieces to win in this fight.

We will keep you posted!

P.S. Special thanks to Raja Singh J.D. for the inspiration.

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