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CNN 10 - March 19, 2019

CNN 10

Cyclone Idai Strikes Three Nations in Southeast Africa; Supreme Clothing Brand Battles Against "Legal Fakes"; A Video Game Collection Sets a Guinness Record

Aired March 19, 2019 - 04:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Southeast Africa is the scene of our first report today on CNN 10.

I`m Carl Azuz. Thank you for watching the show.

First, there was severe flooding. The nations of Malawi and Mozambique saw one and a half million people affected by heavy rains. Then, a week later on March 14th, Cyclone Idai made landfall in coastal Mozambique and ripped its way inland through Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The destruction was so extensive that some areas were cut off and we`re just getting details about it now. In the Central Mozambican city of Beira, the International Federation of Red Cross called the damage massive and horrifying. It says it looks like 90 percent of the area has been completely destroyed. Roads and communication lines are cut and rescuers can`t even get to some places. Bridges were swept away in parts of Zimbabwe. And across the region, officials don`t know yet how many lives were lost.

The ICRC says more than 150 people are thought to have been killed in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, but it says that number could go up as rescue teams make their way through. The president of Mozambique says, with rivers having broken their banks and entire villages having been wiped out, Cyclone Idai could have killed more than a thousand people in his country alone. He called the situation a large scale humanitarian disaster.


AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:

A company`s specific symbol, world or logo can be legally protected by a what?

Copyright, trademark, patent, or brand?

When it comes to intellectual property, it`s a registered trademark that protects a logo or business name.


AZUZ: Intellectual property includes anything original that comes from the creative mind, songs, movies, art work, clothing brands. Protecting intellectual property, keeping another person or business from copying the original work and then making money off it has challenged governments and lawyers for centuries.

For example, what`s happening right now with the brand Supreme. In 2018, fashion platform Lyst called Supreme simple logo the most powerful one in the fashion industry. So, you can see why someone else might want to take advantage.


REPORTER: In December of 2018, Samsung executives were on stage in Beijing to unveil their latest smartphone and also to announce a partnership with one of the world`s hottest and most exclusive fashion brands.

But here`s the thing, these men aren`t the executives of the original iconic Supreme band. This parka isn`t from that Supreme. And most importantly, the U.S.-based had absolutely no intention of collaborating with the tech giant.

It turns out, this Supreme is part of a network of companies imitating the original brand in countries all over the world. And what might be even stranger? Everything the were doing is seemingly legal.

DAVID FISCHER, CEO & FOUNDER, HIGHSNOBIETY, INC.: Essentially, Supreme started as a skate store in Lafayette Street, New York City in 1994. It`s, of course, much more than a skate brand. It`s a brand that`s unlike many others has managed to resonate the culture. They become, you know, a pop cultural icon in many ways.

REPORTER: What started out as simple white t-shirts and skate board deck has grown to include Supreme jackets, back packs, teddy bears, dog pools, Christmas ornaments, Band-Aids, chop sticks, New York City subway cards, cough drops, fire extinguishers, crow bars and hot wheels. There were even Supreme bricks.

There`s been collaborations with North Face, Nike, the New York Yankee, White Castle, Campbell`s, and even Louis Vuitton, among others. And when they`re released, Supreme`s products nearly always sell out, sometimes within seconds.

Today, Supreme is valued at around $1 billion. Its business model is a classic example of artificial scarcity.

FISCHER: Wearing Supreme or buying Supreme is ultimately really about showing that you`re in a know. The sheer fact that it is so hard to get it, of course, adds immense value.

REPORTER: Two decades after opening its first store in New York, Supreme had become a truly global brand and was launching a new collection in Italy -- only Supreme wasn`t launching this new collection, another company was.

FISCHER: The first stage counterfeits or knockoffs are, of course, a sign of success. And then I guess, you know, it becomes a slippery slope. You know, how big that knockoff market becomes.

REPORTER: In November of 2015, a British limited company named International Brand Firm was founded by a Michele Di Pierro who started registering and licensing the Supreme trademark in Europe. After a success in Italy, Supreme Italia was born.

The clothing looks like Supreme styles, but with larger logos, often cheaper prices and it`s in seemingly abundant supply.

FISCHER: You know, they see a Supreme logo hoodie on somebody on Instagram and that`s what they want. You know, they don`t care what`s the story behind this brand, where does it come from, is it real, is it not. And suddenly, the shop close to where they live actually carries that product.

REPORTER: It took until 2017 for an Italian court to rule that the original brand had, in fact, filed for a trademark in Italy before IBF.

After that decision, authorities seized IBF related merchandise. But the original brand hadn`t registered in Spain and IBF wasted no time creating Supreme Spain and opening multiple brick and mortar store. It also successfully registered the trademark under the World Intellectual Property Organization, which is how it`s gained protection in the Chinese market.

In all IBF, claims it`s registered the Supreme brand in a whopping 54 countries. So, how is IBF getting away with this? It`s what trademark lawyers call a legal fake.

JULIE ZERBO, FOUNDER, THE FASHION LAW: In the United States, parties have to be the first to use a specific trademarks such as Supreme on a specific type of goods or services such as clothing. That`s called a "first to use" system in Italy or Spain or San Marino. It`s a first to file trademark system. Meaning that the first party to file a trademark application, regardless of whether or not they`re using it are the ones that are awarded rights.

REPORTER: Since the Italian court`s earlier decision, tides have turned in IBF`s favor. The E.U. has initially refused to let the U.S.-based Supreme registered its trademark logo in Europe because it said the word "supreme" was descriptive and lacking in distinctiveness, though this review process is still ongoing. And when Supreme New York sued IBF in Spain, IBF won in 2018.

ZERBO: This really is a quiet fight for the rights of a brand that is now more or less under siege in countries where it didn`t act quick enough.

SIMONA LAVGANINI, REPRESENT INTERNATIONAL BRAND FIRM: Our claim is that Supreme by Chapter 4 wasn`t a trademark in Italy, it`s not a trademark in Italy and this is the reason why we cannot really say, in our opinion that there is a copy here.

LUIGI GOGLIA, REPRESENTS INTERNATIONAL BRAND FIRM: The items are totally different. The design of the times is totally different.

REPORTER: But the original company called Supreme Italy a counterfeit.

ZERBO: One, we`re looking at a heavily counterfeited brands. Some of the laws, it`s intangible. It serves to chip away the uniqueness or the appeal or the reputation of the brand, while it was once OK to just police the market where you were immediately operating nowadays because of the truly global nature of digital media and e-commerce. It`s just a much more complex issue than it ever was in the past.

REPORTER: It`s unclear whether Samsung knew it was dealing with a so- called "legal fake" all along. But the partnership with Supreme Italia was officially cancelled in February of 2019.

Regardless, IBF`s licensed websites are alive and stores continue to operate in several countries.

The battlefield for brands in today`s global economy is just that, global. And if the rules don`t change, the quickest copycats might come out on top.


AZUZ: It`s one thing to love videogames. It`s another to set a Guinness World Record for having the planet`s biggest collection of them.

Antonio Romero Monteiro has been collecting games for years. He owns games from his childhood, from overseas, some rare games, some he hasn`t played.

Some he hasn`t opened.

He has so many games that it took two Guinness employees a week to count them all. The tally: 20,139. The cost: hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Maybe you think he`s a legend like Zelda to have all that metal gear simming around his house. If his final fantasy or call of duty was to have a world of software craft creating a mass effect, his golden eye for collecting his one Guinness Mario over, even if it`s gala-got to have taken him longer than a Fortnite to build such a super galaxy of titles, it`s no bio shock that dude`s got game y`all.

I`m Carl Azuz for CNN 10.