Thursday, January 25, 2007

I always thought of it as Ren Fair for the New Age...

Burning Man dispute heats up with suit

Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, January 25, 200

Burning Man tickets went on sale this month -- just in time for a lawsuit over who owns the name and logo associated with the annual end-of-summer gathering of 40,000 fire-loving artists in the Nevada desert.

Neon artist John Law, one of the event's three creators, who in 1990 helped relocate Burning Man from a San Francisco beach to a dry Nevada lakebed, is suing his two partners over the rights to the Burning Man name and logo.

Law's federal suit says he was defrauded of his one-third share of the Burning Man trademark's value over the years since 1996, when he left the organization. His two business partners, Larry Harvey and Michael Mikel, have recently tried to claim sole ownership over the Burning Man trademarks, violating an agreement between the three, Law alleged.

Now 48, the former Cacophony Society leader who used to host dance parties in Laundromats, scale the Golden Gate Bridge at night and crash the Chronicle holiday party with a posse of 100 Santas now wants the name Burning Man and its logo released to the public so anybody can use it.

If that's not possible, Law wants to collect on the creative capital he put into Burning Man -- whatever a judge determines it's worth.

"If Burning Man is really a movement, the name should belong to everyone, not three guys who don't get along anymore," Law said.

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