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Why Supreme Isn’t Allowed To Trademark Its Iconic Box Logo
By Mikelle Leow, 07 Sep 2018
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Even though streetwear label Supreme’s heavily sought-after logo enables it to place eyebrow-raising price tags on staple apparels, it apparently can’t claim ownership over the branding, despite several trademarking attempts. Why is that?
Possibly the most renowned reason is that the cult brand wasn’t the first to pull off the iconic look. The white-on-red ‘Futura Bold Oblique’ aesthetic bears uncanny resemblance to that of collagist Barbara Kruger, who started employing her signature look in 1981.
Nope, the artwork above isn’t part of a Supreme capsule; it’s a Barbara Kruger original.
Furthermore, superlatives like “best,” “original,” and not forgetting, “Supreme,” cannot be trademarked, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Such “laudatory” terms are deemed to be merely descriptive, and the ability to have monopoly over these powerful claims is a recipe for unfair competition in the market.
There’s also a matter of the branding not having a character that’s distinctive enough, something that skeptics of Supreme might be able to agree with. Essentially, the label is banking on the color red and the ‘Futura’ typeface, which it didn’t invent.
Nevertheless, the inability to prove itself as unique isn’t exactly hurting the Supreme brand. It regularly rolls out capsules and collaborative pieces that are often resold on online marketplaces at heaping prices.
Mention ‘Supreme’ to any millennial and you’ll either be greeted with excitement or an eye roll. If that isn’t a true marker of a successful brand, what is?
[via nss magazine, cover image via Wikimedia Commons]
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