Dead Monk’s Image Copyright Issue With American Brand Continues

American Brand Uses Monks Image

The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), has said that the image of the late Luang Phor Koon Parisutho, at the heart of a copyright issue with a popular American clothing brand, is not registered as intellectual property.

The DIP said it found no record of the yant (incantation tattoo design) featuring the late abbot in its intellectual property registration history.

According to DIP director-general Vittikrai Leewiraphan, checks showed that copyrights were secured with the department on 21 items related to Luang Phor Koon. They include 15 songs, a book on the senior monk’s commemorative coins, a documentary film and a sculpture.

Despite the lack of registration, the yant in question is deemed an artistic work whose owner is entitled to full copyright protection, said Mr Leewiraphan, and any replication, modification, disclosure in public or use of the creation without the owner’s consent would constitute an infringement of intellectual property law.

On Wednesday, the National Office of Buddhism (NoB) said it would submit a letter to American clothing brand Supreme to protest against its use of an image of Luang Phor Koon Parisutho in its 2021 Spring/Summer collection.

It was prompted to act by the release of a preview of Supreme’s Blessings Ripstop Shirts, which depict the well-known image of the revered monk of Wat Ban Rai in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Dan Khun Thod district.

The image, which appears on the back of the shirts, is of the monk squatting and smoking. The shirts also feature several “yant” prints. Luang Phor Koon died in 2015.

Mr Leewiraphan said the yant was backed by copyright law, so prior permission should have been obtained from its owner before anyone else profited from it.

The DIP chief said if Wat Ban Rai, as a juristic person, produced the yant and was able to prove its ownership, the item would be copyright-protected for 50 years from the day the work was finished.