Banksy will have to reveal his identity if he wants to regain control of his artistic portfolio, judges have said as they strip him of a total of six trademarks.
Two more judgments have been issued now revoking the anonymous street artist’s trade rights to his Bomb Hugger and Love Rat graffiti.
It means in the last 10 months, the European Union Intellectual Property Office has cancelled trademarks he had for six works, including Laugh Now, Radar Rat, Girl with an Umbrella and Flower Thrower.
In all cases, panel of judges found he was acting in “bad faith” by obtaining trademarks because he had no intention of using his works directly for trade.
In the two latest rulings as part of his battle with the greetings card company Full Colour Black, judges said the multi-millionaire artist’s refusal to reveal his identity meant he would “struggle” to obtain copyright, a protection for an artist’s work that lasts their lifetime and for 70 years after their death.
Banksy's Love Rat is among two trademarks he has lost just days after he lost two other trademarks
Credit: Christie's Images Ltd
John Brandler, owner of Brandler Galleries in Brentwood, Essex, and who has amassed a collection of Banksy originals, said Banksy’s trademark defeats and warnings over copyright will discourage other graffiti artists from concealing their identity.
“These rulings show you have to be identifiable to secure copyright. I think other street artists will see the amount of money involved and want to keep their copyright for their lifetime and for their family 70 years after their death,” he said.
“If they want some recompense for their genius they will have to start showing their face.”
However, Professor Paul Gough, the principal of Arts University Bournemouth who is writing his second book about Banksy, said street artists embracing the rules of copyright and trademarks would be a “step too far”.
They will get credit in the bank, but lose credit on the streets. They will probably find a way around these laws,” he said.
Last year he lost the trademark rights to Flower Thrower
The two latest rulings referred to the Bomb Hugger created in 2003 which appeared as a mural in East London and Love Rat which was sprayed in a doorway in Liverpool in 2004.
Both images are examples of the artist’s monochromatic stencil style work.
Aaron Wood, trademark attorney at Blaser Mills, which represented the card company in all six cases, said: “The unusual issue for artists is not being identified, so Banksy is in uncharted waters.
“He would need to derive some unique solutions, and his current strategy of trying other types of legal rights is not working. Of course, what we need to remember is that for many artists using intellectual property law is one way of making sure they are getting suitably remunerated and avoiding poverty: Banksy has no such issue.
“This legal case is really just window dressing and a gnat’s bite financially – if Banksy decided the solution was to create a subversive work criticising the case and to sell it, I dare say he would make more in income than what the unauthorised works make combined.”
Banksy has also been stripped of trademark rights to Laugh Now
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.