Pearl Narang

Pearl Narang is a final year law student of B.B.A.LL.B (Hons.) at Chandigarh University, Mohali and is currently interning as a Trainee in Business World Legal Community. She is also pursuing a diploma in Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. She is passionate about both law and writing.

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Banksy Loses Trademark Case over 'Flower Thrower' Graffity

Banksy's trademark for “Flower Thrower” was filed in bad faith and declared it “invalid in its entirety, says EU's Intellectual Property Office.

Banksy is famous for his satirical art work

Banksy began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England. Since then, he has become one of the world's best-known artists. He is known for his mischievous and often satirical images. These 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."

UK based greeting card company argued cancellation of trademark over non-use

Pest Control Office Ltd. is the company that authenticates and handles requests dealing with Banksy's work. Full Colour Black is a U. K. greeting card company that sells products printed with images of Banksy's pieces. Full Colour Black claimed that the 2014 trademark for "Flower Thrower" should be cancelled because Banksy had not made use of it. The work was created in Jerusalem in 2005 is also known as “Love is in the Air". It depicts a young protester wearing a cap and with his face half-covered throwing a bouquet of flowers.

The greeting card company argued that Banksy only applied for a trademark "to prevent the ongoing use of the work which he had already permitted to be reproduced." The company also noted that Banksy wrote in one of his books that "copyright is for losers." 

Banksy's move of opening his online merchandise store left examiners unconvinced

After Full Colour Black initiated legal proceedings, Banksy opened an online store called Gross Domestic Product to sell his range of merchandise. But the move left the EU examiners unconvinced. Banksy started to sell goods but specifically stated that they were only being sold to overcome non-use for trademark proceedings and not to commercialise the goods," they wrote in their decision. Taking note of 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.

The agency also noted, "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."

Therefore, the EU's Intellectual Property Office's cancellation division ruled that Banksy's trademark for “Flower Thrower” was filed in bad faith and declared it “invalid in its entirety.” 

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