Famed New York City street busker the Naked Cowboy has sent a cease and desist letter to a new Times Square rival, the Naked Cowgirl â€“ claiming the performer's persona â€œis essentially identical and clearly in violationâ€ of his own trademark.
The Cowboy â€“ also known as Robert Burck, 39, has been a signature staple of Times Square since 1997, when he began posing with his underwear, guitar and little else, for tourist photos and singing his theme song â€œIâ€™m the Naked Cowboyâ€.
As his persona grew ever popular, Burck copyrighted his creation and set up the Naked Cowboy franchise. Franchisees must undergo a screening process and pay a yearly $5,000 fee for the privilege of joining the franchise- a fee his Cowgirl rival, 50-year-old Sandy Kane, is refusing to pay.
Kane has begun singing in Times Square wearing just a cowboy hat and bikini, an act Burck states is a clear copycat to his own creation. Kane disputes any violation on the basis that she makes very little money from the act and doesnâ€™t sell any merchandise - just photos with tourists.
Burckâ€™s lawsuit is seeking $150,000 from copyright infringement from comedienne Kane, but already the Cowboyâ€™s rival is dismissive of any reconciliation, stating: â€œYou Know how much money I make? Two dollars a picture.â€
Cowboy Burck holds a bachelorâ€™s degree in Political Science and announced he would politically contest the NYC mayoral election against incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg in summer 2009, but withdrew two months before the election. The Cowboy also visited Ireland in January 2009, performing his theme song at a Leinster Rugby game and performing on Tubridy Tonight.