As if 2020 wasn’t a weird, dumpster fire of year already, especially in the United States where political goings-ons of the past couple of weeks have dominated news headlines, there have been some weird news in the art world. As the New York Times reported the anonymous British artist Banksy was recently denied trademark protection by the European Union (EU) for his artwork.
The artist was attempting to trademark some of this most iconic images in an effort to prevent other companies form producing and selling merchandise with his artwork on it. The trademark attempt was an effort to deter a company call Full Colour Black from selling merch — namely greeting cards — with Banksy ‘s most famous graffiti-art images, including like the iconic “Flower Thrower” stencil artwork. “Flower Thrower” has often been parodied and memed in pop culture and even made into a brilliant Halloween costume.
It’s a curious aspect of the case worth noting that Banksy didn’t try to sue for copyright infringement or protections, which would be the legal route most artists would take to seek redress from others using their images for commercial gain. Instead was seeking to address the issue via trademark law.
Why? Because by suing for copyright violations, Banksy would have had to legally reveal his identity in the suit. To this day, Banksy has remained anonymous, and though some media outlets have stated who they think Banksy is, the artist has never been definitively, positively identified.