Banksy loses EU trademark fight with greeting card company

The cancellation division of the EU's intellectual property office declared Banksy's trademark for “Flower Thrower” invalid. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 September 2020

Banksy loses EU trademark fight with greeting card company

  • Full Colour Black claimed the trademark for “Flower Thrower” should be canceled because Banksy had not made use of it
  • The greeting card company also noted that Banksy wrote in one of his books that “copyright is for losers"

BRUSSELS: Street artist Banksy has lost a legal battle with a a greeting card company along with a European Union trademark for one of his most iconic artworks.
The cancellation division of the EU's intellectual property office said in a ruling this week that Banksy's trademark for “Flower Thrower” was filed in bad faith and declared it “invalid in its entirety.”
Also known as “Love is in The Air," the graffiti artist created the work in Jerusalem in 2005. It depicts a young protester wearing a cap and with his face half-covered throwing a bouquet of flowers.
The decision, which can be appealed, followed a dispute between UK greeting card company Full Colour Black Ltd. and the company that authenticates and handles requests dealing with Banksy's work, Pest Control Office Ltd. The British street artist's real name and identity are unknown.
Full Colour Black, which sells products printed with images of his pieces, claimed the 2014 trademark for “Flower Thrower” should be canceled because Banksy had not made use of it. The company argued he only applied for it to prevent “the ongoing use of the work which he had already permitted to be reproduced."
The greeting card company also noted that Banksy wrote in one of his books that “copyright is for losers."
After Full Colour Black started legal proceedings, Banksy opened an online store called Gross Domestic Product to sell his own range of merchandise. But the move left the EU examiners unconvinced.
“It was only during the course of the present proceedings that Banksy started 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 stated contempt for intellectual property rights, the examiners also made clear that the artist's choice to keep his identity secret hurt him in the “Flower Thrower” case.
“It must be pointed out that another factor worthy of consideration is that he cannot be identified as the unquestionable owner of such works as his identity is hidden," they wrote. “It further cannot be established without question that the artist holds any copyrights to a graffiti. The contested (trademark) was filed in order for Banksy to have legal rights over the sign as he could not rely on copyright rights, but that is not a function of a trademark."
Banksy began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world’s best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words, “Laugh now, but one day I’ll be in charge.”


Top trends for next spring from global fashion weeks

Updated 23 October 2020

Top trends for next spring from global fashion weeks

  • Six of the hottest tips from the catwalks (virtual or otherwise) of fashion month

MILAN: Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the international fashion weeks in New York, Paris, London and Milan recently were a mix of physical shows and digital presentations. And it wasn’t just the events themselves that were affected by the coronavirus — many designers from around the world showed collections that were clearly influenced by social-distancing and lockdown, in often-contradictory ways. Whether that was the somber color palette of Simone Rocha in London, the face coverings and gloves that dominated several shows, or the more subtle nods to our ‘interesting times’ through the DIY vibe of crochet (Alberta Ferretti, for instance), the unexpected return of the sweatsuit (particularly predominant in New York Fashion Week), and the aspirational glamour of flamboyance and glitter. Tom Ford, who presented his Spring ’21 lookbook via video, provided plenty of the latter and suggested it was because he wanted to present clothes that “make us feel good” and hold out “hope of a happier time.” A sentiment that — regardless how you felt about his sequin-usage — was hard to find fault with.

MAKE IT MONOCHROME

Some designers — Molly Goddard in London, Salvatore Ferragamo in Milan — went bright, others were more muted — Max Mara’s sand and beige, say — and some were both — Boss in Milan, with shocking pink, cream, and sand examples. But they all seemed to agree that single-color clothing will be en vogue in spring next year. It’s bold and confident, certainly, and hopefully reflects how consumers might be feeling by the end of the winter.

CLASH CULTURE

If monochrome isn’t your thing, maybe you’ll feel more at home with another major — almost opposite — trend that saw many designers stamping all over conventional fashion wisdom. Cardinal sins were everywhere: Mixing colors that ‘shouldn’t’ be mixed (Pucci’s multi-colored tights), pairing patterns that shouldn’t be paired (stripes and squares!), throwing in animal prints willy-nilly, or, like Sunnei, constructing a shirt dress from four different plaid patterns. It was chaos, and all the better for it

GO BIG

Oversized clothing was everywhere in fashion month. Boss (again) had large sporty jackets in its Tik-Tok-streamed show; Louis Vuitton’s Paris show displayed a largely asexual collection — plenty of oversized jackets and blazers, along with ‘roomy’ pants; and Chloé paired voluminous blouses with high-waisted shorts and trousers. And mammoth handbags were ubiquitous throughout the month. Some observers suggested the super-sized clothes encouraged/forced those around to grant the wearer more personal space in these socially distanced times, others saw them as a throwback to Eighties power dressing. Either way, big is in.

ENCOURAGING ESCAPISM 

From Tom Ford’s aforementioned sparkly sequins in New York to Molly Goddard’s dazzling A-line dresses in London via the floral prints beloved by Loewe in Paris and Valentino and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini in Milan (the latter put on an open-air show, whether because of COVID or because flowers were such a dominant motif we’re not sure), many designers were clearly aiming to lift our collective spirits with a healthy dose of bright, bright beauty. And who could blame them?

HOT HISTORY 

For the last couple of years, retro fashion has been dominated by Eighties and Nineties throwbacks. If Simone Rocha and Erdem, to name but two, are to be believed, we’ll be looking a little further back for spring 2021 — almost 100 years further back. Rocha’s understated collection showed clear Victorian and Edwardian influences with its puffy sleeves, voluminous skirts and high necklines, while Erdem’s dramatic collection also pulled from Ye Olde Worlde, but somehow managed to seem more up-to-date than anyone.

PIMP YOUR PPE

Whether the non-medical-grade facemasks (see Oak & Acorn, Rick Owens) or other face coverings (Chanel’s veils or Paco Rabanne’s sequined hoods) and gloves (Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s rubber gardening gloves or Fendi’s bodysuits with attached gloves) are really what designers believe we’ll want to be wearing in the spring or simply a recognition of the current global situation it’s hard to say. But they were certainly impossible to ignore.