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…..