Banksy copyright bid over Girl with Balloon and Love is in the Air to stop Australians profiting


Anonymous street artist Banksy is told to reveal his identity amid legal bid to stop his controversial artworks from being copied in Australia

  • Banksy has filed trademark’s for two pieces via Perth law firm Bennett & Co 
  • Wants to stop Australian’s from profiting from usage of the popular pieces
  • Banksy artworks covered include Girl with Balloon and Love is in the Air 
  • Melbourne lawyer Tim Golder says artist must identify himself to be successful 

Anonymous street artist Banksy has launched a legal action to stop Australians from reproducing his famous works but might have reveal his identity to be successful. 

Banksy has applied to trademark his celebrated paintings Girl with Balloon and Love is in the Air via a Perth law firm.

The application, which will stop his art from being printed on posters, handbags, clothing and other objects, will be accepted on June 29 unless objections are filed.

Banksy has made similar attempts to trademark his work in Europe but failed after a court ruled he never had any intention to commercialise the work.

Girl with Balloon is one of the Banksy artworks subject to a copyright claim in Australia and made headlines last year when it was partially shredded in a Sotheby’s Auction House after an unnamed buyer paid $1.93million

Intellectual property specialist Tim Golder from Allens in Melbourne, said if Banksy remained anonymous his  legal bid would also fail in Australia.

‘The legal person who owns the right has to make the claim,’ he said. ‘You can’t get out of that,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Speculation has raged over Banksy’s real identity since he made his name with his trademark stencil-style ‘guerrilla’ art in public spaces – on walls in London, Brighton, Bristol and even on the West Bank barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians.

There have been suggestions his real name is Robin Banks, that he used to be a butcher and that his parents think he is simply a painter and decorator.

Rumours have also spread that he is in fact a collection of artists instead of an individual but either way his anonymity has aided in his success as fans try to crack the case. 

Intellectual Property Australia received the trademark applications from Banksy’s London-based company Pest Control Office Ltd in July 2019. 

Perth law firm Bennett & Co lodged the application which will be accepted after the period for filing an objection expires on June 29, 2021.

The applications that have been entered in Australia are identical to two cancelled by European courts.

The latest rulings, which relate to Radar Rat and Girl with Umbrella, mean he has now lost four trademarks in total. 

Banksy has filed a trademark of his famous works, Girl with Balloon (pictured) and Love is in the Air

This application will stop Australian's from profiting from his work's as the art is sold on a variety of items in Australia

Banksy has filed a trademark of his famous works, Girl with Balloon (pictured) and Love is in the Air

The anonymous street artist, who has previously said ‘copyright is for losers’, was told he was acting in ‘bad faith’ because he had ‘departed from accepted principles of ethical behaviours or honest commercial and business practices’.

The EU’s Intellectual Property Office ruled that Banksy’s anonymity ‘hinders him from being able to protect this … art under copyright laws without identifying himself’.

Radar Rat is considered one of Banksy’s most iconic works and appeared on a wall in London in 2004 while Girl with Umbrella was created in 2008 in New Orleans. 

A staff member at the Bonham's Auction House walks past a selection of Banksy artwork

The entrance of a Bansky tourist stall next to the "The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Banksy had six similar trademark applications cancelled in Europe, as they claimed he cannot remain anonymous and own the works

Girl with Balloon was in headlines last year, being partially shredded in a Sotheby’s Auction House after an unnamed buyer purchased the piece for $1.93million.

The winner of the auction went through with her purchase, receiving a piece of art history. 

Love is in the air, or as it is more commonly known, Flower Bomber, shows a man launching a bouquet of flowers as someone would throw a projectile in a riot. 

A signed original print of the artwork, planted in Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art by the artist sold for $184,091. 

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