The EU’s trademark court, EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office), ruled against Banksy’s struggle to protect his iconic images from being reproduced on shoddy merchandise. The present case was about the Laugh Now image, which Banksy’s handling agent Pest Control Office (PCO) had registered as a trademark in November 2018. A year later, a UK-based greeting card company, Full Colour Black Limited, applied for the cancellation of the trademark. EUIPO has now ruled in favor of the greeting card company, and decided that the Laugh Now trademark is “invalid in its entirety.” In September 2020, EUIPO invalidated Love is in the Air (or, Flower Thrower) as a trademark. And there are more trademark disputes to come.
The main argument in the ruling is that a trademark holder must actively market and sell products with the trademark. EUIPO considers that Banksy and PCO haven’t done that: “From an examination of the evidence filed by both parties it would appear that, at the time of filing of the application for invalidity, the proprietor (or Banksy) had never actually marketed or sold any goods or services under the contested Trademark”.
EUIPO shows a clear lack of knowledge in one of the sections in the ruling. EUIPO alleges that Banksy, “for the most part paints graffiti on other people’s property rather than to paint it on canvases or his own property”. What about the 1000+ studio pieces, many of them canvases. Or, the printmaking, the art-shows, the pranks and the whole narrative?
The T-shirts are only available for sale at an event in Bristol on 12 December. All of the proceeds go to four different homeless charities.
Banksy has collaborated with a number of NGOs during the years. One of them is, of course, the @lovewelcomes project, which among other things, made the coveted “Welcome Mat”, sold at the Gross Domestic Product.
Banksy’s handling service Pest Control Office has created one of the most efficient certification systems in the art world. For some time, they have also been active in the second-hand market as an intermediary between sellers and buyers of Banksy’s certified prints and unique studio work. (This has nothing to do with street-art pieces.)
Now it seems like they are taking it to a whole new level with the announced launch of http://www.Bbay.shop. It is an interesting development for the booming secondary market in Banksy artwork, and will hopefully set a new standard for transparency in the art market.
Banksy opened his much-anticipated store on 16 October. Among the products on sale are two interesting prints, a three-frame version of “Love is in the Air,” and “Banksquiat,” an homage to Jean Michel Basquiat. These are Banksy’s first regular print releases since 2010.
In Banksy’s own words: “I’m opening a shop. It’s called Gross Domestic Product™. It sells art, homewares and disappointment.”