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Intellectual Property Law

NYC’s Naked Cowboy Says Candy Corp. Stole His Trademark Skimpy Outfit

Posted Feb 13, 2008 7:31 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Robert Burck has spent years developing his well-known persona as a seemingly naked cowboy playing his guitar in New York City's Times Square. Now he is suing a major candy company over an advertising campaign featuring an animated M&M dressed in a similar skimpy outfit.

The 37-year-old "has his tighty whities in such a bunch over a massive video billboard showing the candy in a white hat, boots, guitar and underwear that he's filed suit against the mighty Mars candy corporation," reports the New York Post. The trademark infringment case is filed in federal court in Manhattan, and Burck is seeking $6 million-plus in damages.

Burck, who has become a Times Square tourist attraction by dressing in briefs and strategically positioning his guitar so as to appear naked, received congratulations from passers-by about the billboard's apparent adoption of his persona. And, initially, he was pleased to see that his artistic concept has gained such legitimacy in mainstream culture, the newspaper writes. But he was not happy to realize that Mars may be making a lot of money from his idea, via a billboard that seeks to attract business to the company's M&M store in Times Square.

"All I've got is my underwear," he tells the Post. "It's the most brilliant thing that's ever been created from a marketing perspective."

A Mars spokesperson did not return the Post's phone calls.

Hat tip: Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

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