Quote of the Day - Ash on an old man's sleeve / Is all the ash the burnt roses leave, / Dust in the air suspended / Marks the place where a story ended.
Burning Man is as much of a social movement as it is an event, and many "burners" (the self-styled name of the participants), want to keep both. As with most things, money tends to get in the way. As a non-participant, MIPTC can't really speak to the social or entertainment aspects of the movement, but I can address the legal ramifications.
It seems that one of the members of Paper Man, LLC, the company that apparently "owns" Burning Man filed a lawsuit, only to receive in response a demand for private arbitration. If it gets into arbitration, we'll only know the result after it's over. But news and Internet reports give the picture that perhaps some of the members of the LLC want to keep it private, and others want to put it into the public domain.
Here's the consequences of both: once something's in the public domain, everyone can capitalize on it. That's capitalize with a capital "C." Everyone will be able to make money on it. If it "belongs to everybody," then it does, and the marketplace will control how the name is used, and used perhaps not with the apparent care it's used now. No one has been able to capitalize on it so far because the "owners" have kept it that way.
If the trademark and the name "Burning Man" are kept private, then the members of Paper Man, LLC can control how the name is used. There's also another company, Black Rock City, LLC, which appears to run the festival (dare I call it that?) itself. The struggle over Burning Man involves both, and that big C in the desert may come to stand for something other than what it does now.