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Banksy loses trademark on 'Flower Thrower' cards

September 17, 2020

The street artist's anonymity hurt their case in the ruling. A greeting card company will be able to use Banksy's "Flower Thrower" piece on their products.

Banksy's "Flower Thrower"
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

Street artist Banksy lost a two-year trademark battle with a greeting card company on Thursday over the renowned "Flower Thrower" graffiti work.

The European Union's intellectual property office (EUIPO) said that it could not be protected as the artist's anonymity meant they could not be identified as the owner of the work, which depicts a protester in crosshairs winding up to hurl a bouquet of flowers.

"The predicament of Banksy's right to the work 'Flower Thrower' is clear. To protect the right under copyright law would require him to lose his anonymity, which would undermine his persona," read the EUIPO's ruling.

"He cannot be identified as the unquestionable owner of such works as his identity is hidden."

The artist created the work in Bethlehem in 2005 and successfully obtained an EU trademark on the image in 2014. But British greeting card company Full Colour Black claimed the trademark should be canceled as he never intended to use it on any goods.

Banksy, whose true identity is unknown, opened a pop-up shop in London last year to address issues in the legal dispute. The shop, named "Gross Domestic Product," was a bid to demonstrate the trademarks being used. But the EUIPO said the shop went against his case.

 "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 its not a function of a trademark," read the statement.

Banksy's work began spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, soon becoming one of the world's best-known artists both because of politically charged imaginative work and continued preservation of anonymity. The artist has continued to work during the pandemic, including working on a migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

The EUIPO ordered Banksy and his or her legal representative to pay for the costs and fees incurred by Full Colour Black. If Banksy plans to appeal the decision, the deadline to appeal is within two months.

kbd/msh (AFP, AP)