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News article | 8 June 2021 | European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

Moulinsart protecting Tintin from infringement, and Banksy losing another trademark dispute

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Good morning everyone. Hope you all had an amazing weekend. For this week’s IP news:

 

Tintin: creative freedom and copyright

Moulinsart, the company representing the interests of Hergé’s heirs, is now pursuing legal actions against Peppone (Peppone works with resin and fibreglass and recreates famous comics’ characters), an artist that created 90 busts based on Tintin characters, as well as against the art gallery that exhibit them.  

Moulinsart considers that the busts were created infringing Hergé’s copyright, accusing Peppone of forgery, demanding that the busts be handed over to them, as well as 200,000 euros of monetary damages. 

Peppone is not the first person accused of copyright infringement by Moulinsart. In 2011, a Belgian restaurateur was obliged to remove Tintin inspired items from his display window. In 2019, Pascal Somon was sentenced to 10 months of conditional imprisonment and 32,000 euros of damages for selling Tintin inspired drawings. Finally, in March of this year, Xavier Marabout was accused of forgery and infringement of Hergé’s moral right, because he was exploring Tintin’s sexuality in his paintings. 

 

Banksy loses another trademark in bitter IP dispute

In a new decision issued by the EUIPO Cancellation Division, a trademark owned by street artist Banksy has been declared invalid. Banksy and his lawyer’s comments had a decisive influence in this case.

The decision is another consequence of the long-running dispute between Banksy’s legal handling entity, Pest Control Office Limited, and UK-based greeting card company Full Colour Black Limited. Pest Control Office first filed an EU trademark for Banksy’s “monkey sign” artwork in November 2018, which reached registration in June of the following year. However, in November 2019 Full Colour Black formally sought cancellation of the mark, claiming that it was filed in bad faith and that it was non-distinctive.

The opening of the shop and Banksy’s statement (opening a shop because of a legal dispute is possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art) weigh against the artist in this case. The EUIPO Cancellation Division said these public comments made during the opening of his store demonstrated that Banksy was not trying to carve out a portion of the commercial market by selling his goods, but was merely trying to fulfil the trademark class categories to show use for these goods to circumvent the non-use of the sign requirement under EU law. Therefore, in his own words, Banksy admits that the use made of the sign was not genuine trademark use to create or maintain a share of the market by commercialising goods, but only to circumvent the law. 

Will this decision have an impact on Banksy’s trademark registered overseas? We will keep you updated. 

This is all for today. Have a very nice week. 

 

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European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency