Banksy can no longer claim legal rights to his artwork, experts say after he is stripped of two more trademarks for some of his most famous graffiti.
The two latest rulings against the anonymous multi-millionaire street artists means he has now lost rights to a total of four of his works.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office issued a pair of judgments that warn how Banksy’s anonymity means he cannot secure copyright for his art, but is repeatedly trying to claim trademark rights.
However, the panel of judges found he is acting in “bad faith” because he is only pretending to want to trade in his creations, having previously said intellectual property laws are “for losers” and urging people to “copy, borrow, steal and amend” his work.
Full Colour Black, a British greeting cards company which recreates his works for sale, has successfully persuaded the EU to cancel trademarks he obtained three years ago for the Radar Rat and Girl with an Umbrella, the Telegraph can reveal.
The legal papers say ‘Girl with an Umbrella’ emerged in 2008 in New Orleans and became “one of the best known” Banksy. The ‘Radar Rat’ – described as “arguably the most iconic and famous of his works” – appeared as a mural on walls in London.
Girl with an Umbrella, also known as Nola, was the subject of another hearing which resulted in Banksy losing his trademark for the work
The panel said because Banksy “has chosen to be anonymous” his “identity cannot be legally determined” and that “hinders him from being able to protect this … art under copyright laws without identifying himself.”
They add how “identifying himself would take away from the secretive persona” which has made him so famous.
While copyright protects an artist’s work from reproduction for their lifetime and 70 years after their death, a trademark secures indefinitely the commercial origins of a product.
The panel accepted Banksy filed the two trademarks in “bad faith” because he had no intention of actually using the images for trade.
They said “there is no evidence Banksy was actually producing, selling or providing any goods or services” before he successfully applied for the EU trademark in 2018.
He then opened a shop in Croydon in 2019 that “would not be open to the public” but sold only online, before stating the store was only created to help the “trademark dispute” with the greetings card company.
The panel concludes Banksy and his lawyer – “by their own words” – opened the shop to “circumvent the law” rather than to use their trademarks for commercial purposes.
They wrote he had acted in “bad faith” because he had “departed from accepted principles of ethical behaviours or honest commercial and business practices.”
Banksy lost trademark rights to Laugh Now But One Day We'll Be In Charge last month
They add: “Banksy was trying to use the sign only to show that he had an intention of using it, but his own words and those of his legal representative, unfortunately undermined this effort.”
Banksy’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully that "an anti-establishment viewpoint does not prevent a party from utilising establishment mechanisms to further their view".
Pest Control Office Limited, Banksy’s representatives, was ordered to pay a total of £1,850 costs for both cases. The company failed to respond to a request for a comment.
Last year the anonymous artist lost right to Flower Thrower, also known as Flower Bomber
Last month Banksy lost the trademark for Laugh Now or Ape. In September last year, he was stripped of the same rights for The Flower Bomber.
Aaron Wood, trademark attorney at Blaser Mills, which represented the card company in all four cases, said: “They think it’s all over. It is – almost – now. I am pleased to say our team has managed to bag two more goals. This brings it to 4-0, and one wonders whether Banksy will now just concede the match.”
“I think we managed to get the strategy right, played a high pressing game and we took our chances – and we were helped by their massive own goal of admitting they opened the Croydon pop-up to try to swing the game.