Banksy May Have to Reveal His Identity to Keep Trademarks

One of the art world’s most known unknowns could lose his trademark if he doesn’t reveal and prove his identity.

Banksy‘s days as an anonymous street artist may be numbered.

According to The Guardian, a trademark filed by the artist in 2014 for his “Flower Thrower” painting is in jeopardy after UK-based greeting card company, Full Colour Black, claimed to have full rights to its use due to Banksy’s long-running anonymity in the art world and his inability to capitalize off the filing in a reasonable timeframe. And now, they have legal footing to print (and keep printing) cards with the image.

A ruling from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) revoked the artist’s trademark for the painting this week, charging Banksy with being “inconsistent with honest practices.” Under EU law, a trademark can remain in effect only if it is used within five years of being established. With this in mind, Banksy opened an online gallery and installation of his work in an attempt to make use of the filing in October of 2019. However, the EUIPO ruled the gallery was an inappropriate use of the trademark, as it exclusively applied to commercialized work.

Now it appears Banksy’s only out it is to reveal his identity, prove it, and then refile trademarks for pieces in his portfolio. Aaron Mills, the attorney representing Full Colour Black in the case, told World Trademark Review that “all of Banksy’s trademarks are at risk,” as they share the same issue relating to his anonymity.

Neither Banksy nor a representative of the artists has yet to comment on the latest ruling. Hold tight for updates on the case (and the potential identity reveal,) in the weeks and months ahead.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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