Banksy Comes Out On Top in EU Trademark Challenge, Allowing Him To StayAnonymous

A months-long challenge to Banksy’s trademark on his well-known image of an ape has ended. A European Union board of appeals has overruled a decision by the EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) which pronounced the shadowy British artist’s EU trademark on the spray painted monkey to be “invalid in its entirety,”The Art Newspaper reported Wednesday.

The kerfuffle began when the greeting card company Full Colour Black formally opposed the trademark in November 2019, alleging that it was filed in “bad-faith” and that the work was not distinctive. Pest Control, Banksy’s authenticating body since 2008, had filed a trademark for the image in 2018, which was subsequently registered in June the next year.

Related Articles

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: Love is in the Air by Banksy is displayed during preparations ahead of online sales at Christies Auction House on March 26, 2021 in London, England. The sale includes "The Prints & Multiples" and "Banksy: I Can't Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Sh*t". (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Banksy Appears to Encourage Fans to Steal from Guess after Brand Uses His Art in Clothing Capsule

Sotheby's Contemporary Art Auction Brings in $314.9 M., Buoyed by $85 M. Warhol and Records for Women Artists

Perhaps the most important aspect of the victory is that Banksy can remain as he has always been: mysterious. A previous dispute over the copyright to Banksy’s “Flower Thrower” found that “if Banksy could not be identified as the ‘unquestionable owner’ of his graffiti, as his identity is a secret, ‘it further cannot be established without question that the artist holds any copyrights to a graffiti.’”

“This is a significant victory for Banksy, or more accurately Pest Control Office Limited, which enables Banksy to conceal his identity,” Lee Curtis, a trademark specialist at the law firm HGF Limited, toldThe Art Newspaper. “The fact that [Banksy] may have said on two occasions that ‘copyright is for losers’ should not impact on the validity of his trademark registration.”

Full Colour Black’s case depended on their claim that Pest Control filed the trademark without intent to use it, Aaron Wood, a trademark lawyer at Brandsmiths, who represents the greeting card company, told TAN.

Banksy’s monkey first appeared in 2002 on the wall of a nightclub in Brighton with a sandwich board around its neck reading “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge.” The image has been included in many Banksy works since, one of which sold for $2.9m at Sotheby’s during their Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London in June 2021.

Leave a Comment