Banksy’s Trademark Struggles

From copyright to trademark, UK artist Banksy has had his fair share of intellectual property struggles, particularly in recent years. 

Banksy is an artist who is renowned globally, a household name in many places. 

His art appears overnight in the most unexpected of places, and becomes a popular hit almost immediately. 

Perhaps fuelling his popularity, is his continued anonymity. 

Despite being active for years, no one has ever found out who the artist behind the Banksy name is, and Banksy himself isn’t planning on sharing that information any time soon. 

The mystery surrounding the artist has proven to be both a benefit to his career, but also a hindrance in some cases. 

Due to the sheer popularity of Banksy’s work, it comes as no surprise that people want a piece of his art in their own homes.  

Fans are permitted to print and display the works in their own homes for personal use, but unfortunately, the demand is something that has led many businesses to incorporate Banksy’s designs into their own merchandise, often without permission

Whilst such a blatant expression of copyright infringement would usually be an open-shut case in the courts, Banksy’s famed anonymity has actually prevented the artist from defending his work to the best extent. 

Just last year, Banksy lost the ownership to his famous ‘Flower Thrower’ image because the courts believed that he could not prove his ownership whilst remaining anonymous, and that he had no intention of profiting from his own work. 

Now, Banksy has secured a new form of protection for some of his creations. 

Images such as those created by Banksy are usually protected by copyright, but due to the artist’s close association with his images as a personal brand, he has been able to apply for a trademark. 

A trademark for the images ‘Love is in the Air,’ and ‘Girl with Balloon,’ has been granted to Banksy in Australia, meaning that he can block others from profiting off of his work unlawfully in that region. 

This, however, comes as the European Union denies Banksy a trademark for his images, due to the fact that he only began selling his works himself as an effort to protect his IP and prevent others from doing so, in 2019. 

This will likely not be the last we hear about Banksy’s trademark journey, a journey that is unpredictable to say the least.  

Will Banksy’s next intellectual property endeavour be successful? 

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