eric-ward-P6NhhvGIL9k-unsplashIt's hard enough for most of us to conceive of being famous for any reason, and harder still to imagine somehow being both famous and anonymous, which would seem to most to be a middle ground that few would want to occupy. Those who want fame would want all the trappings that come with it, while those fervently avoiding the spotlight likely wouldn't want the hassles that come with maintaining that fame. There are a few to have pulled off the trick over the years — the guys from Daft Punk, pretty much any superhero (though Batman is famous in both of his lives)— but no one has pulled it off quite like the street artist Banksy, and now that remove from direct fame is causing some trouble for his trademarks.

In response to a trademark dispute with a greeting card company, Banksy has opened a physical store in the south London borough of Croyden to sell his works, albeit temporarily. (Patrons hoping to unravel the mystery of the artist's identity by catching him behind the shop counter will be disappointed to hear that the shop is merely a formality, and that all sales of the merchandise will be conducted online.) The move comes as the as-yet-unnamed company challenged the trademarks held by Banksy in an attempt to use the mark themselves, as the artist doesn't sell merchandise — hence the storefront.

Banksy's case is a peculiar one given the very nature of the artist and his fame. He is world-famous and yet maintains his anonymity, thus presenting a challenge if he ever wanted to pursue a court case — undoubtedly a fact that the greeting card makers might have counted on in their pursuit of the mark. He clearly doesn't want others to try and capitalize on his pseudonymous brand, because it would be difficult for the average consumer to know what products may or many not be involved with, given the secrecy he shrouds himself with, although most observers would probably be skeptical given his complicated relationship with capitalism.

The store might fend off the trademark challenge at the present, but if the relatively recent history of business enterprise has taught us anything it's that nothing of great value can go untapped or unexploited for long, and some other company will likely try a slightly different tact to produce a similar result, hoping that Banksy's continued anonymity will preclude a response. But he's proved as adept at protecting his brand as he has at making art in secrecy, so the odds are the brand will remain protected and the man anonymous. (Although The Good Place might have an idea who Banksy is.)

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