GUESS called out by graffiti artist Banksy for using his designs without permission
Renowned graffiti artist Banksy has accused fashion retailer GUESS of allegedly stealing his artwork and exploiting it for promotional purposes without giving proper credit or taking permission. GUESS has since clarified its position.
A GUESS store window on Regent Street displayed Banksy's most famous artwork, The Flower Thrower, Flower Bomber, Rage, or Love is in the Air.
It showed an image of a masked man about to throw a bouquet of flowers in a pose strikingly similar to that of pelting stones or throwing a grenade.
Banksy, known for their anti-authoritarian art which is often done in public places and has a huge fan following of about 11.6 million users on Instagram, posted the photo of his artwork in the store.
He captioned the post saying: "Attention all shoplifters. Please go to GUESS on Regent Street. They've helped themselves to my artwork without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?"
BBC reported that as soon as the post came to the retailer’s attention, it shut the Regent Street store, covered the window display, and posted guards outside.
GUESS responded to the accusation by saying that the brand partnership was created "with Brandalised, an urban graffiti license whose mission is to offer Banksy fans affordable graffiti collectibles."
It is not known whether GUESS obtained permission to utilize the artist's image in its apparel line.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the GUESS x Brandalised press release, issued by Belgian marketing agency MMBSY, shows a Fall/Winter 2022 capsule collection featuring casual apparel “inspired by Banksy’s Graffiti."
The article also drew attention to the fact that the Brandalised website refers to itself as a licensor of "the world's most famous graffiti" and displays a quote credited to Banksy next to some of his works of art, but it makes no mention of the company's legal right to use the artist's images.
Copyright lawyer Liz Ward, the founder of Virtuoso Legal, believes that “Banksy should be pursuing Brandalised and or GUESS for infringement of his work. However, given she/he wants to remain anonymous, that may well be impossible."
Due to the artist's secret identity, there was debate over who owned the intellectual property and rights of Banksy's graffiti.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office first decided that his anonymity made it impossible for him to trademark a variety of photographs.
However, according to ArtNews, on November 16, a European Union board of appeals reversed that ruling, allowing Banksy to now request intellectual property protection for images like "Flower Thrower."
PitchMark helps innovators deter idea theft, so that third-parties that they share their idea with get the idea but don’t take it. Visit PitchMark.net and register for free as a PitchMark member today.