Burn BC Admits Defeat In Battle For Public Domain

Image: Roger Luijten/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Roger Luijten/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The epic fight between Burners in Canada and the corporate conglomerate of Decommodifcation LLC, the Burning Man Project, and Black Rock City LLC (together trading as “Burning Man”) is over. The “800 thousand ton gorilla” won,  crushing the opposition who could not even afford a lawyer.


Napalm Dragon (source: Google+)

Burn BC is Dead
Burning Man’s Decommodification LLC kills Burn BC
Long story short.
I tried repeatedly to settle with them. They changed what we agreed to each time, and never provided my one request.

– A list of marks they own.

After we let it go, they threatens me with a Gag Order.
That I and Burn BC, or anyone who associates with us would…

– Never say anything disparaging.
– Never associate with or speak to Burners.
– Have to get written permission to file any future trademarks.
– Would never talk about this or assist anyone regarding this.
– Give them our websites
– admit they own these marks in Canada.
– turn over rights to my artwork.

I kindly told them to go fuck themselves….

So when I refused to sign away my rights, they killed Burn BC by preventing Burn BC from defending its rights in court.

A couple of months ago the Lawyers for Decommodification LLC (The new American Corporation that now owns the American Burning Man Trademark) blocked Burn BC from defending itself.

They would not allow the directors of Burn BC to submit a defence, suppressing a very lengthy defence I’d put together for the organisation.

(I was hospitalised with a major panic attack from the stress of dealing with this).

The judge gave 30 days for Burn BC to find a lawyer. If Burn BC could have found a lawyer, we have mountains of evidence that could have easily defended Burn BC.

So without a lawyer, the flimsy claims against Burn BC went to default judgement. Without a reasonable defence for Burn BC, the Judge was forced to rule based on weak claims by the plaintiff.

Decommodification LLC didn’t just stop at $10,000 plus $25,000, they also wanted the Burn BC website. There’s NO need for the website.

The Judge ruled $10,000 damages (based on one sided claims, and no defence), and turning over our Burn BC website to Decommodification LLC. I can’t blame the judge, he had limited information, and Burn BC was completely unable to defend itself.

So, it’s the end of an era for me.
Burn BC is dead.

I created Burn BC out of love and respect for my community in British Columbia, but shitty territorial assholes killed it.

Time for me to move onto something else I guess.

I’m glad there’s some resolution, and I’ve at least walked away with my integrity and self respect.

~ Napalm Dragon

You can read more of our previous coverage of the matter here:

Canada Draws Battle Lines for Burner Culture

Help Canada

BURNILEAKS: Bullying The Burners

Embattled Burners Ask Community for Support

Now that Decommodification, LLC has full control over the use of their commercial trademarks in Canada, what will this mean for Burner culture up North? Will it benefit, and flourish? Or will it stagnate, dead in the water with corporate sharks jumping all over it? Expect some panel discussions starring Burning Man’s founders, coming soon…


17 comments on “Burn BC Admits Defeat In Battle For Public Domain

  1. Pingback: Who Won, Who Lost, What’s Fact, and What’s Propaganda? Decommodification LLC’s First Legal Stoush | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: Victory for the Little Guy! | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. “Time for me to move onto something else I guess.
    I’m glad there’s some resolution, and I’ve at least walked away with my integrity and self respect.”

    These two sentences describe where I am on the other side of being a regional activist in my local area. After a while, you realize you’re chasing an unrealistic dream, and realize what you’re really doing is propping up some bad actors and a lot of people who are taking advantage.

    Good riddance. Now to find something worth my time.

  4. Looks like B.U.R.N. is in charge of the chicago burner facebook group. Bold Urban Renaissance Network has been running the page for a while, haven’t they?

  5. Dude, sounds like you get your ass kicked. Granted it all washes out like a David v Goliath cage fight but the fact is you stepped into the ring fully intending to commodify on a legal trademark recognized in the US and (I assume) believed that the Canadian border would somehow provide you immunity so that you could carry on.

    Sorry, I’m pretty disgusted in what the event and the stake holders have morphed into but the fact remains what you did was sketchy from the very start and now your comeuppance is at hand. You fucked up and I kinda feel bad for ya but I have to say that I’ve no real sympathy to pass your way.

    Fact is, if someone tried to cash in on an idea that I (and others) had assembled like you obviously have I think I’d go get me a lawyer and rain Hell on you as well.

    Hope you get through this time as quickly and with as little mental or financial pain as possible. Hopefully, there’s a positive lesson in all of this that you might benefit from.

    • You have this backwards. The trademark was invented by others, Decommodification LLC has only existed for a few years, they are the ones cashing in on it. Napalm Dragon was trying to preserve it as free from ANY corporations profiting from it, by keeping it in the Public Domain for Canadians to continue using it. Canada DOES have different trademark laws from the U.S.

  6. This is not your father’s Burning Man. Buying a ticket to this event is cooperation with the company that does things like this – if you’re fine with that, fine. But if you’re not, the only answer is to sneak in. Otherwise face your own hypocrisy.

  7. Not in response towards this post, but I am of the belief it is ironic the Simpsons repeated the Blazing Guy prior to the Elon Musk episode tonight. 50,000 more people desiring to become newbies, and desiring to click on the 10 Ways to Get Laid at Burning Man post.

    Nomad, in regards towards your NPD comments, did you notice, in parody, the Blazing Guy in this picture, his arms raised in the worship me pose, by appearance, is wearing a Stetson?

  8. Bhak tried to register the Org’s trademarks on behalf of all Canadian burners.

    Trademarks simply don’t work that way.

    But he still stuck to his guns.

    This was one guy trying to do the right thing, not a company trying to use the trademarks for commercial purposes. BMOrg should have been satisfied with a win and should not have demanded money damages. They are bags of dicks for doing that. They probably shelled out at least $10k in attorney fees, but that’s the price of doing business.

  9. So, “they killed Burn BC by preventing Burn BC from defending its rights in court” by giving “30 days for Burn BC to find a lawyer”?

    Maybe I live in a strange default world where giving Bhak a month to find a lawyer doesn’t jive with his statement that Burn BC was “prevented” from defending its rights in court.

    Perhaps it’s unfortunate that Burn BC was unable to find a lawyer, though there’s no additional information about where the search for a lawyer failed. No one able to take in on pro bono? No help from the Legal Services Society of BC? Couldn’t throw a fundraiser to pay for a lawyer?

    • Yes would be interesting to get the back story on why he was not able to get legal help. Regardless, the vindictive and scorched earth approach the BORG took lays to rest any illusion that their mission is about “spreading burner culture”. They are simply after money, power and control.

      • I’ve come to realize that contrary to appearances, BMORG is in fact very interested in “spreading burner culture”. They just aren’t interested in spreading it through regionals. They simply don’t give a fuck about regionals (Bhak only get screwed because he poked the dragon; if he hadn’t tried to register “their” trademarks, I’m sure they would have continued to view BurnBC as beneath their concern).

        Case in point (and I’m admittedly not very clear on the details): the principal Chicago burner Facebook page was apparently hijacked by somebody who shouldn’t have it (i.e., not an RC). Does BMORG care? It seems not. He’s not trying to register one of their trademarks. Why should they care what the little people in fly-over country are up to?

        When it comes to “spreading burner culture”, it’s all about getting the movers and shakers on board. Grover Norquist, Chip Conley, Jim Tananbaum. Set up safari camps so the important people don’t have to get their feet dusty. Fly Maid Marian around to schmooze with the VIPs.

        BMORG can’t be bothered to do anything for the regionals, and as long as we don’t provoke them (a la Bhak), they’re not going to make too much of a fuss about regionals not being “official”. Unofficial regionals still help bring in paying suckers to the only event that really matters.

        • Andrew, kudos on your efforts for Burner culture and Burner events.. What is occurring with the Global Leadership Conferences? I might be incorrect, but, by appearance, the conferences, in Bruxelles and in The City, were removed from the list of events on their website. Perchance, RCs not desiring to drink the Cool Aid, or RCs desiring their trip costs to be paid by the BMOrg, or BMOrg issues?

          • On the Burning Man’s Nonprofit Financial Information Record blog post, the BMOrg stated ‘We also heavily subsidize the cost of our Global Leadership Conference each Spring in the San Francisco Bay Area and the European Leadership Summit (now in its second year).’ By appearance, the conferences are to occur, perchance, they solely moved them on their website.

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