Tag Archives: trademark

‘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

U of Chicago-Booth Business School article is ‘junk’ IP science

An ill-founded attack on U.S. IP rights appearing yesterday in the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business publication, “Pro-Market,” is a sobering reminder that there those who believe that IP rights should be eliminated and are willing to resort to propaganda to make it happen. 

The article, “Intellectual Property Laws: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” is a wakeup call to millions of Americans who believe in innovation, authorship and free-enterprise. It must be read to be believed.

Intellectual Property Laws: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing by ink Lindsey and Steven M. Teles of the libertarian Niskanen Center, is a bold challenge to prove that IP has meaning in a digital world, and whether most rights can simply be ignored.

Authors Lindsey and Teles cite the much-debunked 2012 Bessen-Meurer research that claims $29 billion in costs to companies as a result of patent litigation.

“In other words,” state the authors, “outside the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, American public companies would apparently be better off if the patent system didn’t exist.”

The authors conclude: “The copyright and patent laws we have today therefore look more like intellectual monopoly than intellectual property. They do not simply give people their rightful due; on the contrary, they lavish special privileges on copyright and patent holders to the detriment of everyone else. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate to strip IP protection of its sheep’s clothing and to see it for the wolf it is, a major source of economic stagnation and a tool for unjust enrichment.”

The Niskanen Center, which Lindsey and Teles are associated, generated almost $2 million in 2015 revenues. The organization’s website does not indicate the sources nor does there their 990 annual statement.

Pro-Market is the blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The article is adapted from their upcoming book “The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality” (Oxford University Press).

The article, “Intellectual Property Laws: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” can be read here.

Image source: promarket.org


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