10 October 2019TrademarksRory O'Neill

Full Colour Black lawyer dismisses Banksy’s ‘sham’ shop

The lawyer representing the greetings card company at the heart of a trademark dispute with Banksy has told WIPR that his client would consider going after more of the street artist’s trademarks.

Speaking to WIPR, Aaron Wood, a consultant at Keystone Law who is representing Full Colour Black, also said Banksy’s account of the dispute was simply “not true”.

The comments come after Full Colour Black earlier lashed out at Banksy in a strongly-worded statement, calling for the public to “see through the slick PR”.

The company, which reproduces images of street art on items such as greetings cards, said in a Facebook post that “we make cards because Banksy never makes anything available to his fans”.

As reported by WIPR  earlier this month, Full Colour Black has filed an EUIPO opposition to Banksy’s EU trademark depicting an image of his “Flower Bomber” artwork.

In the opposition, Full Colour Black argued that the mark did not serve as any indication of commercial origin.

In response, Banksy said that the company was attempting to “take custody” of his name to “sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally”.

Banksy said that he had been “forced” to establish the pop-up shop in Croydon, south London “for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories under EU law”. The greetings card company had argued that Banksy had made no use of the mark commercially.

Full Colour Black has now disputed Banksy’s version of events. “It is entirely untrue that we are attempting to ‘take custody’ of his name,” the company said.

It added, “This line has been invented by his corporate lawyers to try and gain sympathy from you. He’s made this up!!!”.

Bad faith?

Speaking to WIPR, Aaron Wood, a consultant at Keystone Law who is representing Full Colour Black, said the creation of the pop-up shop resembled a “sham attempt to pull the wool over the eyes”.

“It suggests that Banksy is willing to do whatever it takes to subvert the rules to get what he wants, without any appreciation of what is permitted by trademark law,” Wood said.

He added that Banksy’s claim that his client was attempting to take custody over his name was “not true”.

Wood questioned the thinking behind the decision to establish the shop, as Full Colour Black’s opposition was not a non-use revocation action, but rather based on arguments of bad faith.

“The key pillar of our argument is that it’s not a trademark,” Wood said.

“It can’t function as an indicator that products have been produced with his quality control, because he’s effectively told everybody that they can reproduce it,” he added.

He suggested that Banksy’s EU trademarks may have been registered for the purpose of proving use in the US, where the street artist has pending trademark applications.

“If he’s trying to circumvent the rules of US trademark law, we say that’s bad faith,” Wood said.

Wood said that his team would file a “brief set of submissions, maybe a small witness statement” in response to the creation of the shop.

“If we’re successful against one of the artworks, then we’ll have to review our position about going after the others,” he said.

‘We’ve written to Banksy’

According to Full Colour Black’s statement, the parties had engaged in discussions about licensing the trademark.

“We’ve written to Banksy, his team and his lawyers many times since 2010 to say that we want to pay royalties to him. He doesn’t want it. We believe he’s making so much money already; a couple of hundred pounds a year from us probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of his handmade shoes.”

“Trying to trademark your old graffiti pictures so your fans can’t buy them isn’t good - we’re merely challenging you. Nothing more,” the statement added.

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More on this story

25 September 2020   The trademark attorney discusses his successful representation of Full Colour Black, the greetings card company at the heart of a trademark dispute with Banksy.
15 September 2020   The European Union Intellectual Property Office yesterday, September 14, cancelled street artist Banksy’s ‘flower bomber’ trademark after concluding that it had been filed in bad faith.
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