To Explain Banksy’s Trademark Troubles

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Banksy, the bloke who pollutes our environment with graffiti, has just lost a battle in the courts over his rights to his own work. The problem not being that he is being punished for pollution. Rather, that he’s using the wrong part of law to try and protect what he does.

This is also the explanation for why there have been generations of letters to newspapers demanding that every time someone uses the word bic to mean ballpoint there’s a change to Bic (trademark). Because you don;t have any natural rights to a trademark, unlike copyright.

Banksy loses legal battle with UK card firm over trademark

And so he should have.

As the multi-millionaire anarchic ‘guerilla’ graffiti artist, Banksy took great pleasure in declaring “copyright is for losers”.
the anonymous street artist has been stripped of a trademark for his most famous artwork, the “Flower Thrower”, because he failed to reveal his identity to judges and was found to have dishonestly conducted parts of his legal battle with a UK card company.
The ruling could see the Bristol artist’s other applications to protect legally his creations challenged in the UK, Europe and America.

Well, sorta. His stuff is his copyright, that’s clear and obvious. Copyright belongs to the creator from the moment of creation. You’ve got to actively do something to pass it along to others. Like, say, have a contract with a newspaper to assign copyright to an article to them in return for the fee you gain from having done so. A photograph belongs to the person who took it. A picture to they who painted it. Just how it works. Reproductions of copyright are the theft of that property.

Unless, of course, you’ve just gone and waived copyright by saying so, as Banksy has done. Which is why he’s trying trademark law.

Full Colour Black, which specialises in “the commercialisation of street art” and is owned by Andrew Gallagher and uses Banksy’s art, challenged his EU-wide trademark claiming he was not entitled to a trademark because he did not use it to trade or as a brand, but created it as artwork.
In October last year, Banksy suddenly opened a shop showing his works, including versions of the Flower Thrower, and offered it for sale online.
In an interview he said the shop’s works were created “for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories” as part of his dispute, adding how they were created from a “not very sexy muse”.

A trademark is indeed a mark about a trade. And if you’ve not used it, not defended it, then you can’t have one. Which is what caused those generations of letters about Bic. The trademark only continues to exist while it is being used as a mark of the trade and is defended as such. If, as and when, bic becomes a colloquial word for ballpoint (as with Biro as well I think?) then it’s not a trade mark any more and thus the defence by repeated letters.

If Banksy spent a decade not having nor defending the mark as being of his trade then it’s escaped and it cannot be recaptured. And as he’s already waved copyright…….

The lesson here might just be to wonder in awe at the tenacity with which socialists will claim property rights once they’re worth something…..

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Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Bansky, a few years ago, turned up in Skopje, capital of the then named Republic of Macedonia. He began to deface the ancient Roman “Stone Bridge” which is still in use today by pedestrians crossing the River Vardar, which divides the city north and south. Macedonian police immediately arrested him and rather than holding him in custody they deported him on the next available flight. Before he was even airborne council workers had cleaned the sullied bridge and all was back to normal, excepting that Banksy is banned from a return visit in perpetuity.

Spike
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Spike

Neat. How it would happen here is, he would be jailed, Kamala Harris’s Defense Fund for Fiery but Mostly Peaceful Protests would bail him out, he wouldn’t show up for his hearing, but no matter coz the local DA doesn’t prosecute “mere” property crimes, and he would be invited to the White House so the President could sympathize with his “grievances.”

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Macedonians take a dim view of vandals. In fact they take a dim view of lots of things. During the time that it was exposed that in the UK many tens of thousands of young girls were being gang raped by groups of mostly Pakistani heritage men, the Macedonian Chief of Police told me that could never happen in Macedonia. I said never say never, he replied no you don’t understand, people here would take the child rapists into the forest and shoot them in the back of the head. I suggested that this would create enormous problems for the… Read more »

jgh
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jgh

See also: The Ballad of Narayama.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

A wonderful film.

Boganboy
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Boganboy

I really like the Macedonian approach.

Andy C
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Andy C

If he is who he is rumoured to be, he went to the same school as me, Bristol Cathedral School, although long after I did.