BRUSSELS (AP) – Street artist Banksy has lost a legal battle with a greeting card company and a European Union trademark for one of his most iconic works of art.
The cancellation department of the EU Intellectual Property Office said in a ruling this week that Banksy’s trademark for “Flower Thrower” had been filed in bad faith and declared it “invalid in its entirety.”
The graffiti artist, also known as “Love is in The Air”, created the work in Jerusalem in 2005. It shows a young protester with a cap on and his face half covered with a bouquet of flowers.
The decision, which can be appealed against, followed a dispute between British greeting card company Full Color Black Ltd. and the company that verifies and handles requests related to Banksy’s work, Pest Control Office Ltd. The real name and identity of the British street performer are unknown.
Full Color Black, which sells products printed with images of its pieces, claimed that the 2014 trademark for “Flower Thrower” should be canceled because Banksy had not used it. The company argued that he had only requested it to prevent ‘the work he had already had reproduced’ from being used on an ongoing basis.
The greeting card company also noted that Banksy wrote in one of its books that “ copyright is for losers. ”
After Full Color Black started legal proceedings, Banksy opened an online store called Gross Domestic Product to sell its own range. But the move left the EU examiners unconvinced.
“It was only in the course of the current proceedings that Banksy began to sell goods, but specifically stated that they were only being sold to overcome non-use for trademark proceedings and not to commercialize the goods,” they wrote in their decision.
Citing Banksy’s declared disregard for intellectual property rights, the examiners also made it clear that the artist’s choice to keep his identity a secret hurt him in the “Flower Thrower” case.
“It should be noted that another factor worth considering is that he cannot be identified as the indisputable owner of such works because his identity is hidden,” they wrote. “Furthermore, it cannot be established without doubt that the artist owns copyright to a graffiti. The contested (trademark) was filed so that Banksy would have legal rights to the sign as he could not rely on copyrights, but that is not a function of a trademark. “
Banksy began his career painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has grown into one of the world’s best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two kissing police officers, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign that reads, “Smile now, but one day I’ll be in charge.”