Judge: Mustang Ranch Brothel Keeps Name

The Associated Press
Saturday, December 16, 2006; 9:22 PM

RENO, Nev. -- The infamous Mustang Ranch brothel has been cleared to operate under its famous name, 18 months after it reopened for business at a new location.

A federal judge ruled that the exclusive owner of the Mustang Ranch trademark is Lance Gilman, who bought the gaudy pink stucco buildings that once housed the bordello in 2003 and moved them a short distance next to his Wild Horse Adult Resort & Spa east of Reno.

U.S. District Judge Edward Reed Jr.'s decision Friday went against rival brothel owners David and Ingrid Burgess, who sued Gilman over the trademark to the best-known little whorehouse in the West in January 2004.

A pink-colored sign featuring the Mustang Ranch name and logo _ a lady with flowing hair _ went up at the brothel along Interstate 80 shortly after the judge's ruling was made.

Because he had been barred from using the Mustang Ranch name until the lawsuit was resolved, Gilman had reopened it with the generic name World Famous Brothel.

"We're absolutely delighted," Gilman said Saturday. "It's euphoria to have the most famous brothel name in the world. That name is so well known worldwide. The Mustang Ranch rides on."

Ingrid Burgess said she and her husband plan to remove the Mustang Ranch sign outside their brothel east of Reno within a week to comply with the judge's order. The bordello also has been known as Old Bridge Ranch.

David Burgess is the nephew of Sally Conforte, the late wife of Mustang Ranch's original owner, Joe Conforte. Burgess was manager of Mustang Ranch from 1979 to 1989.

"The decision was kind of heartbreaking," Ingrid Burgess said. "The Mustang Ranch was our family history. We wanted the tradition to carry on. But we wish (Gilman) well and hope he's successful with it."

In his ruling, Reed said Gilman assumed ownership of the trademark to the state's first legal brothel when he bought the buildings on eBay from the government for $145,000 in 2003.

The judge said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had owned the trademark because it received all Mustang Ranch assets through criminal forfeiture proceedings against Joe Conforte and later owners.

The government seized the Mustang Ranch in 1999 after guilty verdicts against its parent companies and manager in a federal fraud and racketeering trial.

© 2006 The Associated Press