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…


Quick Update from Canada

One of our readers asked us today on Facebook what was going on with the lawsuit between Decommodification, LLC, a for-profit US company which did not exist before 2010, who are trying to use the term “Burning Man” in Canada for money-making purposes; and Canadian arts collective BurnBC, who are fighting as best they can for usage of the term to remain free in the Public Domain in their country, where they argue it has been for at least 20 years.

Artist Napalm Dragon reports:

image: Napalm Dragon

image: Napalm Dragon

Not much to say right now.
The only thing that’s happened is that the judge is deciding if Burn BC can defend itself.
She’s going to make a decision at some point, (could be days or months).
If Burn BC is not allowed to self represent than Burn BC has 30 days to find a lawyer or it goes to default judgment.
Decommodification LLC has lowered “damages” to a lump sum payment of $2000.
I doubt they’ll ever see a penny.

So yeah. 

Nothing much to say other than Decommodification LLC is coming off like an arrogant bully pushing frivolous litigation through the courts to intimidate me into signing a ridiculous settlement agreement I will never agree to.

Sounds like Decommodification LLC have backed off a bit on their financial demands, but aren’t prepared to let this case go – even though they have finally got around to applying to register their trademark in the jurisdiction. Their application for a trademark has not been granted yet, and could still be opposed.

Napalm Dragon said recently on Ello:

lawsuit docs

Does this look like a reasonable attempt to reach a solution? Or corporate bullying?

What changed. What was the thing that took it out of the hypothetical and made it real.
The court case. www.gofundme.com/f8bo7g
The trademark wasn’t being used to protect “the community” it was being used to suppress it.
In the court documents, Decommodification LLC makes false claims, including that basically it owns all the Burning Man Communities.
A hypothetical possibility was made real by Federal Court Documents.
That’s what changed.

Since Decommodification/BMOrg are only seeking $2000 (down from an earlier claim of $40,000), money is not the objective – and neither is protecting the trademark, since they’ve now filed an application for it like they should’ve done in the beginning. So what is the point of continuing? To me it seems punitive, and somewhat petty. What is this lawsuit actually “protecting”? Who benefits? Who’s paying?

david-vs-goliathIf you want to help the little guy Burners against the corporate machine in this David vs Goliath battle, please support them here: Burning Man is Not A Commodity. Every little bit helps, no donation is too small.

Previous coverage of this story from Burners.Me:

Embattled Burners Ask Community For Support

Canada Draws Battle Lines For Burner Culture

Help Canada

Burnileaks: Bullying The Burners

South Bhak – Burning Man and South Park S18 Connection Again

Back In The Day

Help Canada

David, Goliath and Mom.
BurnBC, the non-profit collective of (some) Canadian Burners who is being sued by BMOrg for $40,000 for daring to have a legally registered trademark in their own country that they’ve been using for 20 years, has asked for our help. They’re trying to raise the modest sum of $2500 to cover the costs of appearing in court to defend themselves against a $30-million a year behemoth which spends more than $100,000 every month on lawyering.

If you want to help spread culture around the world, a donation to BMOrg will lead to more lawsuits, and a donation to BurnBC will help them have their day in Court. Let’s let the law decide, instead of one party with more resources being able to bully a weaker one. According to BMOrg, this is all in the name of charity and making the world a better place – but there are very few non-profits that go around suing other non-profits. It’s kind of against the point of the whole thing – unless the point of the whole thing is a tax-free way for 6 people to earn royalties off the efforts of Burners, rather than the stated aims about Principles, values, and cultural expansion.

Please help their Gofundme if you can, they’re not asking us for much so even a small donation helps.

For some of the history of the case, including how Burning Man’s US trademark was in widespread public use for many years before corporations took it over in this country, see:

Back in the Day

Embattled Burners Ask Community For Support

Canada Draws Battle Lines for Burner Culture