Tag Archives: Instagram

‘Copyright is for losers,’ says street artist, Banksy; some trademarks not

Ubiquitous yet unknown, UK street artist, Banksy, not a fan of copyright protection, has resorted to the trademark law to stop unauthorized sale of his work in Italy. 

Banksy’s company, Pest Control, sued an Italian company for “selling unauthorized merchandise in connection to an art exhibition. In a provisional ruling, a court in Milan has ordered the company to stop selling the merchandise at hand.”

Banksy’s satiric images are among the most recognizable in the world, and he is among the most infamous artists, yet his identify is unknown. He has said that “copyright is for losers.” The Italian matter was the first time he had enforced his trademarks, perhaps not because of the lost income, as much as to maintain control and prevent over-commercialization.

That his company, Pest Control, sued a museum gift shop may not be an accident. ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop,’ Banksy’s 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary about street artists and how they work, not only illuminated their challenges but elevated the importance of their work. Some believe that the non-fiction film is hoax, or at best a staging, designed to perpetuate Banksy’s mystique.

Questionable IP Strategy

“What is most interesting about this [trademark] matter, writes Vittoria Romano an Australian lawyer on Lexology, “that in concealing his identity, Banksy limits his ability to enforce Copyright.

“Further, his deliberate opposition to using his brand in market puts him at risk of failing to show use. It seems the Pest Control team need to work on an IP strategy moving forward in order to protect the commercial side of his art, even if that is considered to go against his anti-establishment messages.”

Watch Banksy’s $1.2 million ‘Balloon Girl’ Self-Destruct at Sotheby’s in London

 

Prankster or Profit?

“Banksy’s painting of a girl and a balloon, which began shredding itself moments after it sold at auction, for $1.4 million, in London on Friday night, remains to be seen,” wrote art critic Andrea K. Scott in The New Yorker.

“Sotheby’s hasn’t disclosed the buyer’s identity. (Such opacity is business as usual in the art market.) If this person was shelling out for love of the image alone, I would suggest picking up a replacement at Target, where a print version is currently on sale for $36.79, down from forty-six dollars. But, if the painting was purchased as an investment, the buyer might as well follow through.

“The picture’s destruction, like that of Tinguely’s machine, was halted before the job was complete, and there is already speculation that the work in damaged form will become even more valuable than it was before. If the stunt was intended to mock the spectacle of art being reduced to a price tag, the joke might be on Banksy.

“But since it was clearly also a bid for more notoriety—for an artist bent on maintaining anonymity, Banksy does not shy away from the limelight—a cynic might call this is his best art work yet. Since Sunday, the spectacle [see video above] has been viewed nearly nine million times, in a video that Banksy posted to Instagram.” [His page is worth viewing.]

Experts speculated that the price of the shredded ‘Balloon Girl’ increased some 50% or $700K immediately upon partial destruction.

Banksy encourages us to regard vacant spaces and familiar images in humorous ways, and not to take art or ourselves too seriously.

For The New Yorker piece, go here.

The Pest Control website is chuckle-worthy, especially “What is Pest Control?”

 

Images source: marinimacuna.com; thetimes.co.uk; theverge.com; wemp.app

Bold Patent Moves Bolster Facebook, MSFT

Cash Rich, IP-Savvy MSFT Embraces Role of Patent Dealmaker

After acquiring 800 patents and scores of applications and licenses from AOL for $1.1B just two weeks ago, Microsoft has said that it has flipped the bulk of the portfolio, 650 patents, to Facebook for $550M, securing the IP assets and licensing MSFT needs while recouping almost half of its original potentially bargain cost.

It was reported today in Venture Beat that MSFT wanted to partner with FB all along, but that AOL put the cabash on it. IP CloseUp is not buying that.

In a pre-IPO buying frenzy that has to concern some shareholders, FB has a costly portfolio of quality patents to its $1B acquisition of Instagram two weeks ago. You have to wonder if investors believe that despite FB’s lofty market valuation whether it has the firepower to succeed as a major growth company. These recent moves are sure to help. In March, Yahoo sued Facebook, alleging Facebook violated ten Yahoo patents related to online advertising and web communications.

“Stinking Mad”

Sources have told IP CloseUp that Facebook was “stinking mad” that it did not land the AOL patents when they went up for bid several weeks ago, confiding that the failure had more to do with process than cost. MSFT emerges a huge winner, with patents its needs for far less than their true market value (see “Could AOL Patent Sale Have Netted More Than $1B?”) and cash in hand.

You have to wonder how the AOL deal got done. With investor pressure from Starboard Value the company may have been spooked into taking what appeared to a best offer before others were on the table.

“The market was talking about $300M,” speculated one observer. “MSFT may have offered a billion plus if the deal got done immediately.” It did, much to Facebook’s chagrin (and Google’s and Apple’s) and others who may have wanted a shot at controlling AOL’s excellent portfolio, which included original Netscape Internet patents.

A post on the IAM Blog today raised good a question. Will a Department of Justice anti-trust team soon be mobilized to see how recent patent sales are being orchestrated given that some appear to be barely marketed?

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For the patent wars this marks new territory. Smart combatants with cash and guts are well-equipped to play. 

Illustration sources: hubspot.com; heavy-downloads.blogspot.com


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