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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Laughing all the way to the Banksy? Graffiti guru opts for tapioca trade mark

Banksy's cat -- or is it a rat? 
Love him or loathe him, the mysterious Banksy is an entertaining and provocative feature of the modern art scene. His highly contemporary, politically pointed and generally well-executed graffiti -- often containing his signature rat -- are a vibrant, satirical contribution to debate and a great way to force us all to confront our own prejudices and cherished beliefs.

Every popular cultural icon -- and Banksy is no exception -- has to face a choice between the following options:
  • cash in on one's output and exploit it commercially;
  • ignore the commercial dimension of one's reputation and output and refuse to be part of the system that creates this commerciality;
  • dabble in the protection and commercialisation of one's name and reputation, but justify it on moral, not commercial, grounds.
Banksy's own position can be seen from the statement on his website:
"You're welcome to download whatever you wish from this site for personal use. However, making your own art or merchandise and passing it off as ‘official’ or authentic Banksy artwork is bad and very wrong.

Banksy neither produces or profits from the sale of greeting cards, mugs or photo canvases of his work. He is not represented by any of the commercial galleries that sell his paintings second hand and cannot be found on facebook/twitter/myspace etc.".
Notwithstanding this, Banksy (who trades under cover of Pest Control Office Limited), has been busily filing for trade mark protection with the UK's Intellectual Property Office (many thanks go to the Kat's friend Edward Smith for spotting this). This company secured, back in 2008, registration of the word BANKSY in no fewer than 20 Classes of goods and services, for, among other things
"Class 03: Cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations [Merpel notes how handy these goods can be for, er, removing graffiti];
Class 19: statues and sculptures of stone, concrete or marble [good idea: Banky goes in for sculpture too -- witness The Drinker, parodying Rodin's The Thinker, stolen here]; floor tiles, wall tiles.
Class 20: goods of horn, bone, ivory, whalebone [Ooh, not an animal rights man, is he? Particularly after getting into trouble for elephant abuse], shell, amber, mother-of-pearl, meerschaum and substitutes for all these materials, or of plastics.
Class 29: edible oils and fats [BANKSY edible fats will literally run off the shelves, predicts Merpel].
Class 30: tapioca, sago [one member of the Kat family, having experienced these products in his youth, has always been puzzled as to why they've been classed as foods. In his opinion, this could be one of those rare cases in which the goodwill in the mark is damaged by the badwill in the product to which it is attached -- good luck with this one, Banksy]".
Graffiti men at work here


Anonymous said...

Not to mention 'jams' and 'compotes' in Class 29Jeremy ! Not exactly your revolutionary, anti-capitalist media of choice.

That said, his ambivalence is part of the attraction. Here's a guy (?) who says that until the inevitable fall of capitalism we should all go shopping ! He'll be advertising Country Life butter (alongside John Lydon) next !
"Copyright is for losers" he says in 'Wall and Piece' - (yeah, but I'll have a TM instead).

Anonymous said...

Very interesting!

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