Montana Hunting Gear Company Files Lawsuit Over Supreme-ly Familiar Design

Dec 2, 2019

New York street wear brand Supreme is valued at a billion dollars and worn by celebrities like Madonna and Justin Bieber.

Usually it’s the one waging copyright lawsuits against other companies that use its trademarked red logo. But now it’s the defendant in a suit brought by Montana-based ASAT Outdoors, a clothing company that specializes in hunting gear. 

The outfitter says Supreme replicated their copyrighted camo print. Looking at the designs side by side, hunter Dan Hollingworth says there’s hardly a difference.

“Well, it’s pretty close,” he said. “Probably would be a toss up.”

Hollingworth gets together with a group of guys every Wednesday in the back of a gun shop in Billings, Mont. to talk about firearms and hang out. They call themselves the Possum Lodge and all agree the patterns look alike. They’re both earth toned designs with overlapping black lines that look like antlers.

There is such a thing as urban camouflage, and it’s not this. So Hollingworth doesn’t get why people in cities wear camo when they’re not hunting.

“You couldn’t hide on 5th Avenue and Broadway in New York in and outfit like that,” he said.

“Every cop in town would be looking at you like you’re a three-headed hydra.”

ASAT’s website says the pattern, which it’s had copyrighted for over three decades, was designed for animal eyes, not human ones. A promotional video says what makes it different from other camos is how tan it is, not green.

“How many times have you seen a deer and had that same deer vanish before your very eyes?” the video asks.

“Do they have any green in their camouflage? No. They’re tan, black and brown, just like ASAT.”

ASAT's copyrighted camouflage design.
Credit ASAT Outdoors

The company sells its jackets and pants to stores like Walmart and Overstock.com.

In the lawsuit filed earlier this month in the Southern District of New York, ASAT says Supreme infringed upon its “design willfully, intentionally and purposefully.” The Mont. company is now asking Supreme to hand over profits they made from their selling their similar looking design.

Supreme, which did not respond to request for comment, released its camo designs as part of their current fall and winter collection. The brand sold down jackets, pants, sweaters and hats with the pattern it called “Tribal Camo.”

Supreme sold "Tribal Camo" jackets, pants, hats and sweaters, most ranging from $148 - $218.
Credit Supreme New York

Other big fashion brands like Itialian clothing company Valentino have also put out camo-heavy collections this year.

Hollingworth, the Billings hunter, says it doesn’t matter if camouflage is a trend. The only time he’s wearing it is when he’s hunting.

Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America corps member.