Street artist Banksy has successfully trademarked two of his most well-known artworks in Australia. The artist registered the artworks in an attempt to stop them from being used for commercial purposes.
The elusive artist applied for the trademarks via a law firm based in Perth, and although the tactic ultimately failed in Europe, the Australian applications were successful and will be registered next week. The two iconic artworks covered by successful are “Love is in the Air”, a stencil of a masked man throwing a bouquet of flowers, and “Girl with Balloon”, a stencil of a child letting go of a heart-shaped balloon.
The trademark applies to the use of images in a variety of products such as posters, handbags, umbrellas, bed sheets, clothing and rugs.
“It’s not the foremost way of doing that, but if a particular artwork is very much associated with a company or a person, and they advertise their services by reference to that artwork, it could work.” Kellie Jukkola, an associate and trademarks attorney at Michael Buck IP lawyers said.
Jukkola said trademarks were not intended to be used to protect artworks, but to inform consumers of the origin of goods.
“A trademark is intended to be an indicator of the origin of the goods and services specified in the registration. Trademarks are usually a word or logo, or even a sound. Generally speaking it is the name or logo associated with a business.
If it’s a standalone piece of art, I don’t think trademarks are the appropriate registration to use to stop other people from using the artwork.”
Successful legal bid to trademark Love is in the Air and Girl with Balloon comes after a similar move in Europe failed which canceled four trademark applications for Banksy’s work.
The court also argued that Banksy needed to identify himself in order to successfully apply for copyright in the artwork. They also noted that Banksy once stated in his book “Wall and Peace” that “copyright is for the loser.”
According to a memo on his Pest Control Agency website, the general public “welcome to use Banksy’s images for non-profit personal entertainment. Print in colors that match the curtains or grandma’s. You can make a card or submit it as homework.” Saying “Banksy wrote copyright is for losers in his book’ doesn’t give you free rein to misrepresent the artist and commit fraud. We checked.”