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Banksy Might Lose Rights To His Work If He Stays Anonymous

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 21 Sep 2020 12:10
Banksy Might Lose Rights To His Work If He Stays AnonymousBanksy/ITV

Banksy may lose the rights to his work if he continues to stay anonymous, after losing a legal battle with a card company wanting to use his images.

Part of the famous street artist’s trademark is keeping his identity hidden, though it might be about to backfire, as it seems by remaining anonymous, Banksy may not be able to claim copyright or ownership of his own works.

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One of Banksy’s most iconic pieces is Flower Thrower, in which a man with a scarf covering half of his face can be shown throwing what should have been a Molotov cocktail, but has been replaced with a bouquet of flowers. The graffiti is located on a wall on the side of a garage in Jerusalem.

Despite being the artist behind the piece, Banksy lost a two year legal battle last week over the rights to Flower Thrower, after a card company wanted to start printing it on its cards.

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The company, called Full Colour Black, argued that the artist cannot claim the rights to the piece because he hasn’t been identified as its owner, thanks to Banksy remaining anonymous all these years.

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According to World Trademark Review, The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) who ruled against Banksy, said:

Banksy has chosen to remain anonymous and, for the most part, to paint graffiti on other people’s property without their permission, rather than to paint it on canvases or his own property.

[…] It must be pointed out that another factor worthy of consideration is that he cannot be identified as the unquestionable owner of such works as his identity is hidden; it further cannot be established without question that the artist holds any copyrights to a graffiti.

Responding to the panel’s decision, the artist said that Full Colour Black were trying to ‘take custody’ of his name so they could legally sell fake Banksy merchandise. His legal representatives dubbed the whole case as ‘frankly ludicrous’.

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The artist launched a homeware shop called Gross Domestic Product October 2019 in a bid to show use of the trademark, however it unfortunately didn’t work in his favour. Banksy called the opening of the store for this reason as ‘the least poetic reason to ever make some art’.

There have long been rumours over the true identity of Banksy, including a recent theory that he was actually Art Attack’s Neil Buchannan. However, Buchannan later dismissed the theory outright on his website with a statement titled: ‘Neil Buchanan is NOT Banksy.’

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Anonymous, Banksy, Copyright, Graffiti, News

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World Trademark Review
  1. World Trademark Review

    Gross Domestic Failure – Banksy trademark portfolio “at risk” after registration ruled invalid