You can't eat your cake and have it, or can you? Famous underground artist and counterculture hero Banksy, famous for his satirical graffitti, seems to be trying to have both, at least in regards to trademark law. And he is of course doing it through some very creative and alternative means.
Bansky, the secretive artist who reportedly said that "copyright is for losers", is now engaged through his management company, Pest Control Office Limited, in a trademark battle with a greetings card company called Full Colour Black.
Pest Control Office has applied and obtained several trademarks reproducing iconic Banksy works. Full Colour Black has been using such works on their products and are now seeking one of these trademarks to be cancelled:
The main argument being made before the cancellation division of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is that nor Bansky nor Pest Control are using their trademarks in commerce - and as such, they must me cancelled.
Indeed one condition to be met in order to keep a trademark registration alive is indeed proof of it being used to distinguish products in the market - this not being the case for Bansky so far, as it appears his filing strategy is merely a defensive one. It is believed their lawyers have advised to counterargument by opening a Bansky homeware store in South London. While the store is permanently closed and does not sell anything, it informs of a website where such homeware has been available (in limited quantities and under registration): https://shop.grossdomesticproduct.com/
Some of the "homewares" provided are clocks, mugs, or even a tombstone, all of which are already out of stock.
This is a rather unusual, "satyrical" approach to fabricating evidence of use for which there are no precedents. In any case, Banksy has seen his rights protected by IP courts in the past, for instance a Milan court earlier this year stopped the organizers of an exhibition from selling merchandising with his artwork. Whether the EUIPO cancellation division will find this ruse very clever, or a mockery to the trademark system, it remains to be seen.