Banksy puts down spray can, goes corporate in banksy.com cybersquat brouhaha

Unsolicited city decorator sticks it to The Man, asks for its help

Banksy HMV dog Nipper with bazooka

Street artist Banksy has gone corporate, using a trademark of his name to try to win control of the Banksy.com domain.

A formal complaint has been sent to domain arbitrator WIPO by Banksy’s “authentication” company Pest Control Office, which now, it seems, has moved into trademark enforcement.

WIPO will decide in case D2014-1789 whether the domain has been registered in bad faith and if so will demand that it be handed over.

The domain was first registered in 2001 but never used. It was allowed to expire before being picked up again in 2006 and used as a parking page, first for ads about graffiti and then two years ago for banks.

It is currently registered to someone calling themselves “Banksy Blog” who is based in Quebec, Canada. The Register called them, but the person at the other end hung up as soon as we asked about the domain.

Banksy may have a hard time winning the complaint. His trademark (no. 85198175) was registered in 2010 – long after the domain was registered. And the name “Banksy” is, of course, not his real name. Sting was famously told to stick a similar complaint up his lyre when he tried to get hold of Sting.com despite actually being called Gordon Sumner.

What’s more, the Banksy.com website is not using or profiting from his name so it may be hard to prove any harm. Banksy.co.uk appears to be more official.

With all the new top-level internet domain names being launched – from .art to .london – a smarter move may be for Banksy to simply register his own name. ®




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