Banksy Just Suffered a 'Devastating' Loss

Street artist loses EU trademark fight with greeting card company over his own artwork
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2020 7:21 AM CDT
Banksy Just Suffered a 'Devastating' Loss
A worker walks past "Love Is in the Air", by British artist Banksy, a day before the unveiling of an exhibition in Rome on Sept. 7, 2020. The exhibition runs until April 11, 2021.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

In a desperate move to claim the trademark for one of his most famous works, British street artist Banksy, usually known for floating untethered in anonymity, opened up a shop last fall, hoping to sway European Union judges in his favor. His efforts—deemed a "weakass attempt" by Techdirt—have failed. Per the Independent, the EU's Intellectual Property Office ruled this week that a trademark obtained by Banksy in 2014 for his "Love Is in the Air" artwork (aka "Flower Thrower"), and which was challenged by greeting card company Full Colour Black, was invalid, as it was made in bad faith. FCB, which has used the artwork on its cards, had argued that Banksy wasn't using the art himself for any trade or branding purposes, and so it was fair game.

Per the AP, Banksy opened Gross Domestic Product, a pop-up shop that sold his products only online, in 2019 to try to prove he actually was immersed in the world of commerce, but the EU judges didn't buy it. They blamed Banksy's own words and actions for the nixing of the trademark, noting that in an interview, Banksy had admitted to opening the store "for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories," and that in one of his books he'd once scoffed at intellectual property rights, saying, "Copyright is for losers." Aaron Wood, a trademark attorney who represented Full Colour Black in the case, calls the decision "devastating" for Banksy. "He will need to consider whether any of his trademarks for his artworks are actually valid," Wood says, per the Independent. Banksy can appeal the ruling, which can be seen in full here. (More Banksy stories.)

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