Culture

Banksy loses trademark case over the 'Flower Thrower'

Banksy loses trademark case over the 'Flower Thrower'”

The cancellation division of the EU's intellectual property office said in a ruling this week that Banksy's trademark for "Flower Thrower" was filed in bad faith and declared it "invalid in its entirety".

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) sided with the company, arguing that the artist can not be identified as the unquestionable owner of the work - and, thus, its image - since his identity is unknown.

The guerrilla graffiti artist had engaged in a prolonged legal battle with the small greeting card company Full Colour Black-which was selling products featuring the image of a Palestinian man throwing a bouquet of flowers. "A greeting cards company are trying to sieze [sic] legal custody of the name Banksy from the artist, who has been advised the best way to prevent this is to sell his own range of branded merchandise".

For a trademark to be valid, the holder must sell goods using the image.

Banksy successfully applied for an European Union trademark for the work in 2014, and in 2019 opened up his own shop featured versions of his artwork for sale, which he admitted in an interview was "for the sole objective of fulfilling trademark categories". An EU panel ruled against the artist stating that he could not be considered the owner of an artwork when his identity is still a mystery, the Guardian reported.

The card company's case hinged on the claim that the anonymous artist did not intend to use the trademark he had taken out on the design in 2014.

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"His intention was not to use the mark as a trade mark to commercialise goods and carve out a portion of the relevant market, but only to circumvent the law", the ruling said. Citing Banksy's stated contempt for intellectual property rights, the examiners also made clear that the artist's choice to keep his identity secret hurt him in the "Flower Thrower" case.

They argued that Banksy's decision to write graffiti for public property and his earlier expressions of a lack of interest in preserving copyright for his work were factors in the judgment. "These actions are inconsistent with honest practices", EUIPO said.

What this means for the future is that any and all of Banksy's artwork-not just the "Flower Thrower"-may be subject to unregulated reproduction within the European Union".

"A greetings card company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art", Banksy then said, the Guardian reported.

Joanna Brooks, Banksy's press spokesperson, has not responded to a request for a comment from the artist.

Banksy has been stripped of a trademark for his most famous artwork - because he refused to reveal his real identity to judges.



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