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Banksy European IP dispute highlights purpose of trademarks

Businesses often want to trademark phrases and images they use in their business, but unless the use is truly to identify the source of goods or services, a trademark isn't the answer. The famous anonymous street artist Banksy learned this the hard way in the EUIPO, which held that he could not prevent a greeting card company from using one of his works on cards. The EUIPO determined that he never used the image as a trademark and therefore could not claim trademark rights against the card company.

Businesses may be able to overcome these challenges by relying on copyright protection instead. Also, it is sometimes possible to make a new, reimagined use of the phrase or image and deliberately use it in connection with the offering of goods and services.

The EUIPO previously stated that they believed Banksy’s intention with the shop “was not to use the mark as a trademark to commercialise goods… but only to circumnavigate the law” and that “these actions are inconsistent with honest practices”.


insights, hyland_amanda, ip litigation, ip trademark