News Flash: Larry, M2 & BRLLC settle dispute with Law.

My ex-buddies and their lawyers carefully scrutinized my complaint and, realizing the unassailable logic and legal correctness they notified my attorney that they’ll be dropping the “Burning” & will be calling the endeavor from now on:

“The Man™”


Marian Goodell, is the one person who joined the party after 1996 without whom the desert event simply would not have survived. I’m not joking when I say that her PR skills are excellent. I admire these skills greatly.

Marian Goodell, spokeswoman for Black Rock City LLC, of which Harvey and Mikel are partners, said the two have agreed to go to arbitration to sort out trademark ownership and are “disappointed and surprised” by Law’s legal action.

John Law:

Arbitration IS litigation. Complete with attorneys. It’s not a happy backslapping beer fest with your slightly PO’ed buddies. Trying to make this sound like my reaction is out of left field may be compelling messaging but it is not entirely the truth. Larry made a power grab for the symbols; M2 forced litigation claiming Larry & I had no rights to these symbols and I responded to being threatened by both of these actions.

Maid Marian:

Secondly, about the event. We’ve gotten questions from a number of participants asking “Is this the end of the event?” The answer is “No”. We are moving full steam ahead for Burning Man 2007, and we will be back in the Black Rock Desert this August — count on it.

John Law:

What I’m doing is the best possible thing for the event. None of this legal stuff should ever impede the actual financing (through ticket sales) and building of the event. Bringing the dealings of all parties involved, their intentions, motives and history into the light can only be good for the people who enjoy the event.

Maid Marian:

Finally, about the idea raised in the lawsuit of putting the Burning Man name and image in the public domain. While the concept is interesting, the reality is that we’ve been fighting attempts by corporations to exploit the Burning Man name almost since the first day we set foot on the playa. Making Burning Man freely available to individuals who would only use it to make money would go against everything all of us have worked for over the years. We will not let that happen.

John Law:

The first “corporate interest” in the event was Helco in 1996 (the seventh year on the playa – believe me NO business interest were taking us very seriously before that year at the earliest) and they attempted a leveraged buy out which, while not succeeding, sowed seeds of future board-room chicanery. Other “corporations interested” in the event while I was still Operations Manager were Port-O-San and the like, because we paid them well for their services.

Harvey did a power grab for no apparent reason. M2 named me in arbitration Why?? There was NO action by me that precipitated their surly moves. I made no request for cash, control or change. My litigation is a response to my business partners’ boneheaded moves and disregard for the community. Releasing the name to the public domain solves the disagreement and allows all the countless volunteers to continue the experiment and see if this really is a movement.

Maid Marian:

We’ve created a desert oasis free of corporate sponsorship and marketing, a place where interactions aren’t intermediated by commerce. More than that, we’ve created a global community of people who share values of radical self-reliance, self expression, and civic responsibility. Burning Man is more than a place or an event, it is an idea. That idea is worth protecting, preserving and defending, and that’s what we’ll continue to do while we work out this disagreement.

John Law:

Black Rock City LLC is a corporation. There is a marketplace on its website and commerce is occurring. The BRCLLC has set it up so that NO ONE except the BRCLLC can profit from the name created by countless volunteers. We are not talking Pabst Blue Ribbon here- a guy trying to sell his tent on Ebay mentions “perfect for Burningman” and gets a cease and desist. It is curious that the BRCLLC, with full knowledge of the Paper Man agreement, never offered to compensate one of the original BM partners (or Jerry James for that matter – look him up, he started the whole ball rolling so long ago.) Things that make you go “hmmm?”

Many advocates of the desert event (which IS a thing much bigger than a simple business) believe that the whole thing is a movement. They might be right, though for me, personally, the jury is still out. If it IS a movement anything Larry, M2 or I do (or any lawyers for that matter) cannot stop it.

Here is the great news kids. This law suit may just be the thing that can heal the Harvey/M2 relationship. … instead of heading for a divorce they just might start kissing each other with their mouths open again. I think we can all look forward to a unified front from the LH/M2 duo and a photo-op reconciliation as they try to slap my happy ass down. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned.


  1. nina

    BurningMan branded port-o-potties… I kinda like that. It seems an awful lot more schrewd and creative than yet another person running around with blinky-lights and funny-fur. Is it only “creative” to make satire of the self, and not of an entire organization- or, of the concept of organization?

  2. Kathy Ketman

    Hey guys, here’s an idea: Just call it Flaming Person. (I own the name, but I will sell it to either BMLLC or John Law, whoever jumps on it first, for $285.) If you buy this name, it has to be a Creative Commons license.

  3. Susan


    Thank you for keeping everyone on their toes! This has been a long time coming.

  4. tym simpson

    You are an evil bad bad man and are going to burn in hell. How dare you smash the magic mirror of delusions that allow yuppies to foster the delusion that they can transcend their meaninglessness for a fee How dare you point out the emperor’s nudity? What utter gall to request blissninny hypocrits to rationaly evaluate and actualy think independently.
    What are you high?
    What are you some kind of commie anarchist buzzkill?
    Seems like you got them more nervous than a long tailed cat on a porch full of rocking chairs.
    Shame shame!…

    I have a phrase for larry and the would be uber groovy corporate drop out blinder wearing board members of Bm- I say they fuck their own god. I do not think they are evil but they certainly are steeped in mendacity.
    Their ignorence and blinder wearing can be astounding. It sure as hell ain’t just a river in Africa now is it?
    Have you thought of suggesting putting the name into a creative commons Liscensing agreement or some such?
    So when are you coming to visit Austin? Perhaps make the art car parade in hot smelly Huston?
    Marian is good at what she does but the gulibility of her audience doesn’t hurt none either. Her veracity is dubious at best but like any truely good pr person, hack propagandist or outright lier she truely believes her own somewhat mendacious paridigns- its sad.

    Hi to jr and missus, hope to see your prodigy in person someday.Perhaps this summer, maybe late august or so.
    namaste as i wanna be,

  5. Pingback: Laughing Squid » John Law Sues His Former Burning Man Partners
  6. John Hell

    Hmm. I have a pot-o-sand hat. I like it. I really do. No one ever stopped me when I named the radio station Radio Free Burning Man. Hmm. How can I use this to my advantage? Must think clearly. No.

    What does Jerry think? Knowing Jerry, he’s staying very far away from this.

  7. Sophie

    John, I wanted to take my time thinking about this before choosing sides. I’m joining you on the dark sides.
    Burners afraid of seeing Burning Man taken over by corporations should ask themselves what’s the difference between that and the current situation. As you point out BRCLLC IS as corporation . Why should it be different that Coca Cola or 3 guys own the name? It’s always “someone else”.

  8. THAT Andi


    Like freak stepchildren us Regionals are consistently left out of many Burning Man discussions. A LOT has happened since 1996, one of the biggest changes has been the organic growth of the Regional Network (RN). Why organic, because each Regional sprouted ON IT’S OWN, they were not directed to do so by BRC LLC. Much of the growth and spread of the RN has gone beneath the radar of SF BM veterans for far too long.

    Each Regional Contact (RC) stepped up to the role and began to organize their comunity with the understanding that NO ONE is profiting from Burning Man, and no one ever would. RCs put in hundreds if not thousands of hours a year in volunteer passionate effort, all for nothing (well we do get a free ticket to BM, wheee). NO RC is in it for the money (if they were they would be pretty dumb) it is all about building community and passion.

    Both outcomes of John Law’s suit would be detrimental not only to everything BRC LLC has built since 1996 but also to the 80-odd Regional groups around the world. Destroying the “brand” (putting the trademark into public use) would have a much larger nrgative impact in the RN. Forget about “BM Girls Gone Wild” or Nike “BM sneakers”, the real threat are the already existing event promoters that would instantly capitalize on the Regionals’ hard work and good name and reputation. Sure you would open up a whole bunch of people to use “BM” as they see fit but you would also be clubbing the RN in the knees and instantly devaluing 9 years of passion and dedication by the 100-odd RCs.

    The RN and BRC LLC can and will recover through rebranding or whatever but the enormous Social Capital that has been built up in the past 20 or so years will quickly begin to drain away. A public lawsuit battle is not in anyone’s interest and just goes to show the world that BM really is not that special, it is just another capitalist endeavor wrapped in nice words.

    I am writing this today so that you Mr. Law (and Larry and M2) can reconsider what you are doing in light of what is REALLY happening out here. And I have a proposal, this for-profit thing has always a bad smell to me. How about putting the “Burning Man” name out of for-profit use for good, not by destroying the “brand” but by converting Paper Man LLC to a nonprofit, or by transferring all assets to the Black Rock Arts Foundation? That would be the ONLY way to insure that no one ever makes money off of the BM name.

    If you need a hand with the nonprofit thing you can always ask the handful of Regionals that are 501c3’s and 501c7’s. Ka Pilina would be more than willing to help out in this endeavor.

    Andi Cuniberti
    Founder, President, and Executive Director
    The Ka Pilina Interactive Arts Society, Inc. (501c3)
    Burning Man Hawaii co-Regional Contact

  9. wolfe desert dog

    u losers need to get a life and stop drinking the kool-aide
    if it really is a movement YOU do not need a corporation OR a festival to be artists, get yourselves empowered!
    you will all do what you need to do with or without it!