Banksy Lost a Trademark Battle in the E.U.
After Quotes From His Past Come Back to Haunt Him
The famous and mysterious street artist Banksy lost a trademark battle with the greeting card company Full Colour Black. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that the trademark of one of Banksy’s paintings is invalid. What makes things worse is that Banksy and his lawyer could be the ones to blame for their loss.
The trademark in question is of one of Banksy’s most famous pieces of art: Laugh Now. The artwork depicts a monkey with a sign which states Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge.
The greeting card company Full Colour Black specializes in street art greeting cards. Full Colour Black uses the same image as Laugh Now but changes the wording on the sign to quotes such as Bald Is Best and I Bought It on Expenses.
How Banky’s Own Words Were Used Against Him
Pest Control, the company in charge of certifying the authenticity of Banksy’s art, filed for a trademark claim with the EUIPO. Full Colour Black then fought back on this claim, calling for a cancellation of the trademark. They argued that the trademark was non-distinctive and filed in bad faith.
Additionally, Full Colour Black argued that the artwork was spray-painted in a public place where it was free to be photographed and spread by the public. The ruling states that “Banksy permitted parties to disseminate his work and even provided high-resolution versions of his work on his website and invited the public to download them and produce their own items.”
In his own book Wall and Piece, Banksy says that “copyright is for losers”.
Banksy is also an anonymous artist. The ruling states that “It is also noted that as Banksy has chosen to be anonymous and cannot be identified this would hinder him from being able to protect this piece of art under copyright laws without identifying himself, while identifying himself would take away from the secretive persona which propels his fame and success”.
Pest Control has presented other trademark applications to the EUIPO, but most, if not all, will likely get denied.
Follow our blog for more!
If you would like to speak to one of our trademark attorneys, contact us!