Banksy takes on greetings card company in IP dispute

A greetings card company has defended its legal position after street artist Banksy accused it of selling fake merchandise.

Disputing the accusations, card company, Full Colour Black, has argued that the anonymous artist’s comments are “entirely untrue”.

The Yorkshire-based firm started an invalidity action earlier this year aimed at cancelling an EU trade mark based on Banksy’s Flower Thrower mural.

In response, the elusive street artist opened his own hardware store in Croydon recently, after taking advice from intellectual property experts.

“A greetings card company is contesting the trade mark I hold to my art and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally,” he said in a statement.

The artist added: “Sometimes you go to work and it’s hard to know what to paint, but for the past few months I’ve been making stuff for the sole purpose of fulfilling trade mark categories under EU law.”

Hitting back at the artist, however, Full Colour Black owner Andrew Gallagher said in a statement his company was a “legitimate enterprise”.

“We don’t infringe his rights in any way. We don’t use his trade marks or his brand name.

“We make cards that feature Banksy’s public graffiti.”

According to the statement, the greetings card company took photographs of Banksy street art and made it available to fans of the artist.

“It is entirely untrue that we are attempting to ‘take custody’ of his name,” said Mr Gallagher, adding that he has offered to pay the artist royalties from sales.

Andrew Murch, a Solicitor with iLaw, who specialises in IP law, said: “Whilst the outcome of this case is awaited with interest, the general rule under trade mark law, is that unless an individual produces their own range of merchandise, the legal right could be transferred to someone else.

“Certainly when it comes to IP matters, the lesson is very much use it or lose it!”

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