Banksy has opened his first shop just to win a legal dispute
Banksy has been forced to open a store and launch his own merchandise just to tick some legal boxes.
From shredding multi-million dollar art works right in front of its perspective buyers, to installing illegal displays at prestigious art events, to of course, vandalising the urban world, Banksy has never been an artist to follow the norms. However, due to some recent legal issues with a greeting card company, Banksy’s lawyer has twisted his hand into releasing some official merchandise.
Tucked away in Croydon’s Church Street in London, for two weeks, Banksy and his equally mysterious crew have turned a former carpet shop into a new store showcasing some of his work. The store, named ‘Gross Domestic Product’ will have its lights on 24 hours a day for the full two weeks, but the doors will never open. If you want to buy the pieces inside, you must do so online.
The merchandise, dubbed as “impractical and offensive” is a first from Banksy. His step into merchandise comes as an unknown company is attempting to snatch the ‘Banksy’ trademark from him.
The secretive graffiti legend reveals according to the Belfast Telegraph that: “A greetings cards company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally. I think they’re banking on the idea I won’t show up in court to defend myself.”
Initially it’s confusing to hear that anyone can possibly take the Banksy trademark off the man himself (at least we think he’s a man). However, under trademark law, if you hold a trademark over something but do not ever use that mark, it can be given to someone more willing to utilise it. In Banksy’s case, his previous refusal to officially sell merchandise means his mark was not being used.
His lawyer, Mark Stephens, specialising in arts law, advised Banksy to launch the store and merch so that he’s legally using his mark and it cannot be taken.
Stephens explained that: “Banksy is in a difficult position because he doesn’t produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear – if the trademark holder is not using the mark, then it can be transferred to someone who will.”
Items on display, and soon up for sale online, include a stab-proof vest worn by Stormzy, adorned with the Union Flag motif, a signed spray can, welcome mats, life-vests, and a handbag made from bricks. You can check out the soon-to-open website here.
Banksy reveals that over recent months he’s had to focus more on his work fulfilling laws rather than his own passions as to protect his name:
“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 trademark categories under EU law. It’s not a very sexy muse.”
Despite this legal trouble, Banksy is still as anti-establishment as ever, saying people can still steal, borrow, or amend his work, so long as you don’t try to steal custody of his name.
The proceeds from these products will go towards buying a new migrant rescue boat Banksy assures.