Nov 30, 2022Legal
"They've Helped Themselves to My Artwork..." Banksy Accuses GUESS


“Attention All Shoplifters…” Another guerrilla marketing strategy or unintentional (intentional) copyright infringement?

This fall/winter 2022, Guess’s capsule collection, in collaboration with Brandalised, is a “Banksy’s Graffiti inspired” line of garments featuring the works of a prominent graffiti artist. Banksy was struggling with his anonymity in recent years to protect the copyright over his art, while it was repeatedly used for commercial activities.

His own statement “copyright is for losers” seems to have compromised the artist. In 2021, he lost the trademark over Banksy's “monkey sign” work in litigation with Full Colour Black Limited, when EUIPO claimed the trademark invalid. EUIPO has explained that the artist didn't lose the trademark over his prior anti-copyright statements but over an argument of bad faith. Guess, on the other side, states that the new collection was inspired by Banksy’s graffiti and that they had legally acquired all the rights.

For some, the Brandalised’s licensing over Banksy’s works remains questionable; however, his latest Instagram post, “Please go to GUESS on Regent Street” encouraging shoplifting, is highly accused by the public, and by the words of copyright lawyer Liz Ward, “Copyright is a civil offense, but shoplifting is a criminal one”.

What’s your opinion? Should anonymos creators have a right to protect their authority over the art? 

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