Banksy Loses His Case Against A British Company Over Use Of His Intellectual Property

The Flower Thrower by Banksy. [Bethlehem, Palestine]

Mathew Wilburn

22 September 2020

A dispute over intellectual property that began last year between the anonymous British artist Banksy and the North Yorkshire company Full Colour Black ended in favour of the business this past week.

Banksy, who filed the suit, did so due to the use of his art for financial gain.

According to the lawsuit, Banksy wasn’t in support of Full Colour Black’s decision to sell £2.99 cards that use the image of his 2005 Flower Thrower painting. He felt it wrong that the company was profiting off his art and selling “fake merchandise.”

In retaliation, Banksy chose to open his own store in London and trademark his art. The trademark, however, didn’t hold up in court with the European Union Intellectual Property Office choosing to invalidate the trademark as a result of the following arguments that were brought to up by the defendants’ legal team.

  • Banksy’s case was launched in “bad faith” given his previously critical stance on the intellectual property when it comes to his work.
  • With the painting technically considered graffiti due to it being in a public place, any photo can be used by anyone for financial gain – which has been the case thus far.
  • Banksy’s anonymity which is a significant part of his identity as an artist hindered him from suing for copyright infringement which would require he reveal himself to the world.

The result going in favour of Full Colour Black places Banksy is in a challenging position moving forward, especially given his current attempts to trademark all of his international work.