World Trademark Review – Banksy NFT collection to launch from controversial multimillionaire trademark activist


  • Entrepreneur Mike Lin reveals plans for upcoming Banksy NFT collection
  • So-called ‘Banksy of trademarks’ offers 50% of profits to the street artist
  • Lin tells WTR he is “hoping for legal troubles” from the sale of NFTs

In an exclusive interview with WTR, millionaire entrepreneur Mike Lin has revealed the imminent launch of an NFT collection featuring well-known Banksy artworks. While boldly declaring he is “hoping for legal troubles”, he claims that the street artist can have half of the profits “if he can confirm his identity”, with a further portion pledged to non-profit Doctors With Borders.

The legal exploits of US-born Lin – who garnered a multi-million-dollar net worth as an early employee at LinkedIn – first hit the headlines in 2016 after he filed a slew of politically charged trademark applications. In total, Lin has spent more than $30,000 on trademark filings, and has found himself in the legal crosshairs of major brands and celebrities (and even featured in TMZ after lodging an application for NASTY WOMAN shortly after Donald Trump uttered the phrase to rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential election). Many of the trademarks have been used on products sold by his clothing company T-Shirts Matter, including activist phrases such as COPS SHOOT FIRST and MAKE AMERIKKKA GREAT AGAIN. Common targets of his applications appeared to be Disney (eg, MORTIMER MOUSE, HOUSE OF MOUSE, and LET IT GO) and Pokémon (eg, TEAM MYSTIC and TEAM VALOUR), although he asserted in 2016: “I disavow any knowledge of popular culture, especially around Pokémon or Disney.”

While late last year he vowed his ‘retirement’, that appears to have been postponed with the development of an upcoming Banksy NFT collection. Talking this week to WTR, Lin – who previously characterised himself as the “Banksy of trademarks” –  says he is currently in the process of minting over 50 images of Banksy artworks on the Rarible NFT platform, with a plan to sell 111 of each for $60 apiece (the price inspired by Banksy selling original artworks for $60 in 2013). The NFT listings will go on sale from 22 January 2022 at domains including ‘BanksyNFT.org’ and ‘PestControlOfficeNFT.com’, with 11% of the money pledged to go to Doctors Without Borders. If each $60 NFT sells, it would raise $333,000, with $36,630 going to Doctors Without Borders. “Banksy can get half of the profit if he can confirm his identity,” Lin adds.  

The famously elusive street artist has had numerous issues related to NFTs in the past 12 months. A hacker reportedly sold a ‘fake Banksy NFT’ for $336,000 in August 2021, while Banksy’s ‘Love is in the Air’ artwork will be digitally divided into 10,000 pieces and sold as NFTs last month by a group that purchased the original piece for $12.9 million.

The artist has also faced numerous legal fights over his trademark portfolio. Last year, the EUIPO Cancellation Division declared a trademark owned by Banksy’s legal handling entity, Pest Control Office Limited, invalid as part of a high profile dispute with a greetings card company. At that time, the lawyer representing the opposing party described it as “the death knell” for his entire trademark portfolio. It is understood there are still two more decisions pending in the EU as part of the legal stoush.

WTR contacted Pest Control Office for their response on the upcoming Banksy NFT collection. While they have not yet responded, a spokesperson for Banksy told the BBC last year: “Any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form.”

With that in mind, it is doubtful that Banksy will be reaching out to Lin for the profits from the NFT collection. Could a legal battle occur instead? “I don’t expect any issues, but I am actually hoping for legal troubles,” Lin tells us. “I’m in Taipei, Taiwan, so good luck with that.”

Whatever happens, a third party creating Banksy NFTs highlights the way this new blockchain offering is quickly becoming the new IP battleground.





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