Banksy's anonymity has always been an integral part of his success, affording him a Robin Hood-type allure that keeps new generations arriving at his work. But the very anonymity that brought him riches in the art world might now be the thing that takes them away. A recent ruling by the European Union Intellectual Property Office has stripped Banksy of trademark rights to two more of his artworks, with his hidden identity a key cause in loss of copyright.
As well as warning that his anonymity “hinders him from being able to protect this art under copyright laws without identifying himself,” the EU panel found, in two separate judgments, that the artist was also acting in "bad faith" as he had "departed from accepted principles of ethical behaviours or honest commercial and business practices."
Now having lost rights to a total of four artworks for similar reasons, the most recent ruling saw the street artist lose trademark ownership on two of his most recognized works — Girl With Umbrella and Radar Rat. Girl With Umbrella was made in London in 2004 and Radar Rat in 2008 in New Orleans.
It is being reported that greetings card company, Full Colour Black, which recreates Banksy works for its product, convinced the court to drop the trademarks the artist had claimed on the two pieces.
In his 2006 book Wall and Piece, the artist said that copyright claims are "for losers", and encouraged people to “copy, -borrow, steal and amend” his work. In a decidedly contradictory act, Banksy continues to claim trademark rights.
These latest rulings open the gates for people to do exactly that, which means that, should he wish to retain ownership of his work, Banksy may be forced into revealing his identity.