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Friday, 15 February 2008

Naked cowboy in win-win situation

Various readers have drawn the IPKat's attention to a Reuters news item concerning New York City street performer Robert Burck, alias "The Naked Cowboy", who is suing Mars Inc for $6 million for misappropriating the use of his trade mark appearance: white underwear, cowboy boots and a hat. The alleged infringement has been performed by a blue M&M confection on a Times Square billboard. Burck objects to the portrayal of a scantily-clad blue M&M with a guitar alongside views of New York, including street scenes and the Statue of Liberty.

The IPKat admires the manner in which publicity-conscious Americans play the intellectual property system for their own benefit. Burck drums up plenty of coverage, enhances his already substantial public profile and even stands to gain a small pay-out in settlement; M&M hog the headlines at the expense of their competitors and gain considerable public sympathy for being subjected to the indignity of litigation in response to their good-humoured parody. Even the lawyers get something to bill for. Merpel adds, I hope it goes to court so we can read the arguments of the respective parties: it would be a pity if the resolution of this little spat was the subject of a cover-up ...

Naked cowboy here
Naked cowgirl here

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