Naked Cowboy talks with Naked Cowgirl about lawsuit (audio)Fri Jul 23, 2010 @ 08:30AM PST
By Eriq Gardner
It seems that New York's infamous "Naked Cowboy" isn't getting much respect in pressing a lawsuit alleging that a woman who is parading around Times Square as "The Naked Cowgirl" is devaluing his brand.
But there's one reason why people shouldn't dismiss the claim as totally frivolous. At least not yet.
Two years ago, the Naked Cowboy, whose real name is Robert Burck, sued Mars Inc., alleging that it had dressed its M&Ms characters in promotions to look like His Nakedness. Burck claimed this was a violation of both his privacy and trademark rights.
New York District Court Judge Denny Chin dismissed the privacy claims on grounds that the law didn't protect a character created by a person. But Judge Chin allowed the trademark lawsuit to continue, noting that consumers could draw the wrong conclusion that the Naked Cowboy was endorsing M&Ms. The lawsuit was then settled.
If the Naked Cowboy has an unclothed leg to stand on, it's with respect to possible confusion, which he says devalues his brand. Burck has retained lawyers and built a modestly lucrative franchising business. In an interview on the "Opie & Anthony" show yesterday, Burck cites statistics by the NY Tourism office that he's currently the third biggest attraction for tourists in NY.
In the radio interview, the hosts and a lawyer give the Naked Cowboy some grief for a bad PR move, but things really get hilarious when they bring the Naked Cowgirl on to speak with each other. Have a listen.