Muzland - chords


May, 20

Banksy loses second trademark case after refusing to disclose his identity

Banksy’s rights to his own portfolio of work is “at risk” after the anonymous graffiti artist suffered his second legal defeat because he refused to disclose his identity to judges, The Telegraph can reveal.

The street artist has been stripped of a trademark for his “best known” artwork called ‘Laugh Now’ because he was found to have acted in “bad faith” and has repeatedly criticised intellectual property laws, a judgment says.

It is the latest twist in his increasingly bitter battle with a UK greetings card company which recreates his works for sale.

Lawyers for Full Colour Black Ltd have successfully argued twice that Banksy cannot trademark some of his images because he never intended to use them for commercial purposes.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruling warns he could struggle to copyright his works because to reveal himself as the “unquestionable owner” would “take away from the secretive persona which propels his fame and success”.

While copyright protects an artist’s work from reproduction for their lifetime and 70 years after their death, a trademark identifies and secures the commercial origins of a product.

The 17-page judgment says the 2002 work for a Brighton nightclub, Laugh Now, or ‘monkey sign’, features 10 monkeys holding signs, some saying ‘laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge’.

The panel heard how the artist “sprayed” graffiti in public places, invited people to download his works to make copies and claimed “copyright is for losers” because all public art is automatically free. His lawyers insisted he was simply being “ironic”.

But three years ago, he began applying for trademarks in the EU and America, prompting the card manufacturer to challenge them.

In response, the artist set up a shop in 2019 claiming meeting trademark requirements was “not a very sexy muse”.

The judgment says although “Banksy… is clearly against property laws” he is entitled to trademark his work, but he had done so in bad faith because he had “had no intention to genuinely use the sign as a trademark”.

Aaron Wood, trademark attorney at Blaser Mills Law, who represented the greeting cards company, said: “He famously said copyright is for losers - so far for him it seems trademark law is also for losers.

“The bigger issue for him is that it puts his global portfolio at risk, and dents any interest he may have in the rights.”

Pest Control Office Limited, which represented Banksy in the action, failed to respond for comment, but issued an automated email which said the message “has been received, and though a response may not be forthcoming (or in fact ever composed) we appreciate you getting in touch.”

The company was ordered to pay costs.

Added automatically

  1. Muzland
  2. News 2021
  3. May
  4. Banksy loses second trademark case after refusing to disclose his identity