Naked Cowboy and Cowgirl Headed for Legal Showdown

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Reuters/CORBIS

The gloves — and everything else, actually — are off!

New York’s Naked Cowboy has survived rain, sleet, snow and an aborted publicity-seeking run for mayor, but there is one thing he can’t abide: a copycat. The busker (born Robert Burck), who in the course of his 10 years performing has become a symbol of the new family-friendly Times Square, is alleging that fellow Times Square performer The Naked Cowgirl (real name Sandy Kane) is infringing upon his trademark. Burck performs with a guitar, cowboy hat and a pair of white men’s briefs; Kane with a guitar, cowboy hat and a bikini.

The Cowboy’s camp sent a cease-and-desist to the Cowgirl, stating “Your use of Naked Cowgirl is essentially identical to the Naked Cowboy and is clearly in violation” of the Cowboy’s trademark. Burke has set up a franchise system for licensed imitators, who traditionally pay the cowboy $5,000 a year or $500 a month, but says he would be willing to negotiate with Kane.

Kane, for her part, is refusing to pay. “I’ve been naked for years,” the former stripper and burlesque artist told the New York Post.

The Naked Cowboy has proved adept at self-promotion, appearing as himself in The Apprentice, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and the Olsen twins film New York Minute. He is no stranger to public battles over his trademark: In 2008 he sued Mars, Inc. over an advertisement that showed an anthropomorphic M&M candy wearing his signature outfit. The two parties settled in an undisclosed agreement later that year, with each side paying its own legal fees.

Nickelodeon’s Naked Brothers Band, meanwhile, have remained untargeted. (via People)

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