Why is Mars, Inc. being sued by The Naked Cowboy?
#97088. Asked by BRY2K. (Jun 29 08 4:10 AM)
" For the past 10 years, he's the guy you've seen on the sidewalk, with the great body, strumming his guitar and singing, dressed in a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and underwear -- and nothing else, even in the dead of winter.|
As a native New Yorker, I will admit that at times, it has been my guilty pleasure to walk or drive by The Cowboy to see if he can bear the elements. To my amazement, he's always there and pretty naked -- in rain, sleet, snow, heat or bitter cold.
I've even taken pictures. Video Watch The Naked Cowboy in his natural habitat »
Well, it seems that Mars Inc., the makers of M&Ms, also knows about Robert Burck (The Cowboy's real name). Burck sued Mars this week for $6 million in federal court in New York. The allegations: trademark infringement under the Lanham Act and violation of his right of publicity under New York Civil Rights Law §51, arising from a video billboard for M&Ms.
The video ad depicts an M&M frolicking around New York, in what kind of looks like Times Square, in what kind of looks like The Naked Cowboy's outfit -- briefs and nothing more than a smile.
There have been plenty of jokes about the lawsuit, and I'm especially fond of the ones found on The Wall Street Journal Law Blog on Thursday, such as:
# "If his lawyers' briefs are as tight as his, he will certainly win." -- Acepilot
# "Thought this was about a naked cowboy. If the plaintiff is wearing briefs then he is not naked. No case." -- Akex
# "I'm going to sue Burck. I walk around in my underwear all of the time -- he is ripping me off!" -- woz
All jokes aside, I think he may have a case. In order for him to show trademark infringement, The Naked Cowboy has to be trademarked; has to prove that Mars, without his consent, infringed upon the trademark; and has to show there's a "likelihood of confusion" between his trademark and the allegedly infringing mark -- in this case the naked M&M. "
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