Getting naked in Times Square just became the focus of a legal battle

hings couldn’t possibly get any stranger than a naked cowboy suing for trademark infringement.

“This is quite the case,” said David Alden Erikson, a Los Angeles business litigation attorney. “A naked cowboy, who sings and plays guitar for a living in Times Square, is suing what he considers to be a cheap imitation of himself – a naked cowgirl.” While this isn’t as big a patent and trademark case as NTP v. Apple-Google, it is important, as the Naked Cowgirl is accused of devaluing a well recognized brand and icon; one that has been in Times Square every day for the last 10 years.

The Naked Cowboy, better known when he has his clothes on as Robert Burck, insists the Naked Cowgirl should be paying him a franchise fee for wearing “his” proprietary grab – albeit in different anatomical locations. What is his proprietary clothing? It turns out to be a uniform of sorts, although only vaguely, as a pair of underwear is really just a pair of underwear. Or is it? Some attorney saw it as more than just undies, and now has Burck as his client.

The decision that needs to be made in this case will deal with whether or not Robert Burck owns the trademark to “naked.” And furthermore, does he also own the trademark to “cowboy?” The cowboy makes his living standing in Times Square, naked but for a pair of undies and his guitar and hat, singing for money. Does that mean he owns trademark to street guitar playing? What about this case might say there is something here that is devilishly creative and unusual and different that distinguishes his trademark?

“At the risk of sounding slightly amazed, which I have to admit I am,” Erikson said, smiling, “this case will offer the courts a whole new challenge in trying to deal with those who want to trademark any activity they do in public while in their underwear.”

Needless to say, the outcome of this case, which will no doubt achieve infamy of some sort or another, will be very interesting. Will it make it to court? Only time will tell, but try to remember that the issue of trademark infringement is a serious one and there are laws in place to prevent it from happening. Whether or not there are laws in place to deal with the Naked Cowboy’s latest endeavor – getting married by the Reverend Naked Cowboy in Times Square for a starting price of $499 – well, that’s another story.

To learn more about David Alden Erikson, Attorney at Law, visit

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