Supreme Faces Copyright Action over Monk’s Image

By Alex Baldwin | World IP Review | Updated: 2021-03-11

1615426064662566.jpgUS streetwear company Supreme could face legal action over a shirt that displays an image of a Buddhist monk allegedly without permission.


Thailand National Office of Buddhism (NoB) is drafting a letter to Supreme, claiming that its 'Blessings Ripstop Shirt' infringed on copyright by including the image of the late monk Luang Phor Koon and sacred script generally reserved for tattoos of Buddhist monks and Brahmin holy men, according to The Fashion Law.


The image was originally taken with Luang Phor Koons permission and used on products to raise funds for Wat Ban Rai, a temple located in the Nakhon Ratchasima province. The NoB claims that the yant script on the clothing is protected by copyright law.


However, as the office nor the temple have copyrighted the image, the Thailand Department of IP (DIP) director-general Vittikrai Leewiraphan said that they will need to present proof that it created the image and design in order to proceed with legal action.


The Bangkok Post reports that 21 items related to Luang Phor Koon have been registered with DIP, including 15 songs, a book, a documentary film, and a sculpture.


As the image constitutes an artwork, the creator may be entitled to full copyright protection from replication or modification.

Speaking to The Fashion Law, Rouse's Jakarta-based deputy CEO and enforcement head Nick Redfearn reinforced the NoB's claims, saying the image "is probably protected by copyright, but subsistence and ownership may need to be proven."