After a year-long legal battle with EU courts, Banksy’s cover remains intact, and his work protected.
The news comes after a board of appeal reversed its 2021 decision to invalidate the trademark for the elusive artist’s iconic depiction of a monkey holding a sign around its neck that reads: ‘Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge’.
First created in 2002 in Brighton, the ‘Laugh Now’ graffiti was kept free of a mark up until 2018 when Banksy’s authenticating body, Pest Control, chose to register it. However, Full Colour Black, a U.K. greeting card company that relies on Banksy visuals to sell its products was not too pleased with the news and decided to challenge the mark a year later, claiming it was filed ‘in bad faith’.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) initially supported that claim in May 2021, arguing that the British artist’s work ‘was free to be photographed by the general public and has been disseminated widely.’ Banksy is also known for speaking out against copyright, saying it was for ‘losers’. Naturally, this statement did not help his case at the time.
After careful re-consideration, the EUIPO published a ruling last week, stating that they found no evidence of ill- intent from Pest Control and, consequently, Banksy.
Interestingly a few days later, Banksy published a post on his instagram account to his 11.6 million followers, accusing US fashion retailer Guess of stealing his work, and encouraging shoplifters to head to their flagship Regent Street store in central London and “help themselves” to the clothes .
Behind the mannequins wearing T-shirts, coats and accessories featuring his graffiti, there was a large background image of his Flower Thrower stencil, showing a masked Palestinian throwing a bouquet of flowers.
The Guess website promoting the collection says the clothes were “created in partnership with Brandalised”, a company which secures the rights to graffiti all over the world, which their website says offers fans the chance to buy “affordable graffiti collectibles”.
Guess have shops in both the UK and US, and feature lots of Banksy’s work predominantly on their site and Instagram page : https://www.guess.eu/en-sk/guess/art-collection
The collection has items for men, women and children, and uses Banksy images including the Queen with a blue and red David Bowie-style lightning flash painted across her face, his Livin’ The Dream Disney take down and Thug For Life Bunny. Prices range from around £35 up to around £225.
To top it up they also have stolen the artwork from artist Inc Wel, known for his Ziggy Lizzy portrait in Bristol and misnamed it as Banksy.
Following Banksy’s post, shop staff covered the inside of the window with large sheets of plain paper, obscuring the display.
As Brandalised acquired licencing rights from Full Colour black Ltd, it will be an interesting to see how this will unfold.