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Supreme Ensnared in Camo Copyright Court Case

If there’s a link between streetwear and hunting gear, it’s that consumers of both seem to love camouflage, but one of the world’s most sought-after streetwear brands may have broken that unlikely bond by cloning a relatively unknown sportswear brand’s camo pattern.

In a new legal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York Federal Court on Nov. 11, ASAT Camouflage named Supreme (through its umbrella organization, Chapter 4 Corp.) as a copyright offender, citing the unauthorized usage of a copyrighted camo design in certain products sold and distributed by the beloved, collab-happy brand.

“This is an action for copyright infringement under Section 501 of the Copyright Act,” ASAT’s brief complaint read. “This action arises out of Defendant’s unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted camouflage design, owned and registered by ASAT, an apparel company. Accordingly, ASAT seeks monetary relief under the Copyright Act of the United States.”

The complaint centers around what ASAT (an acronym for All Seasons, All Terrain) calls a “3D” camouflage design, arranged in such a way as to give the impression not only of a camouflaged figure, but of visual depth, as well, theoretically encouraging the hunter’s prey to simply look past the design.

supreme is being sued by a Montana-based sportswear brand, ASAT, for allegedly copying its camouflage design
ASAT’s copyrighted camouflage design compared to a product sold on Supreme’s website. Courtesy of Filing

In the complaint, ASAT said the design has been copyrighted since 1985 and it has been the owner of that copyright ever since. ASAT alleges that Supreme openly copied the design and used it to create “derivative works,” including hats, jackets and other apparel.

ASAT has asked the court for damages and profits related to the sale of these products, saying it is due damages of up to $150,000 per work infringed upon, along with the full cost of the legal battle.

Supreme and Chapter 4 have been served a notice that requires a response by Dec. 5. Neither entity has issued an official response.

According to The Fashion Law, ASAT may actually have a solid case.

“Interestingly enough, ASAT does not set forth trademark claims, such as infringement or false designation of origin, which it might be able to do, assuming it can show that consumers link its specific camo print—one that appears as though it just might be somewhat distinctive compared to others types of camo on the market—with a single source,” The Fashion Law wrote in a report on the case.

“Given its expansive retail footprint, namely, its stocking of its wares with retail giants like Walmart and specialty outdoors entities like Black Ovis, it just might be able to make a case for trademark protection (in lieu of registrations) and thus, infringement,” the group added.