Orange County Trademark Attorney® Blog

Bob Marley's Family Settles Feud over Late Singer's Trademarks

December 6, 2012

marley-bob.jpgOrange County - Bob Marley's relatives have settled a family feud that began when Marley's half brother exploited the late singer's legacy for financial gain.

Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd., which represents Bob Marley's widow and nine of his children, filed a lawsuit against his half brother Richard Booker in December 2011. The lawsuit followed a cease and desist letter Fifty-Six Hope Road sent to Richard Booker in March 2009, which Booker failed to respond to or comply with.

In the complaint, Hope Road claimed that Booker had used Bob Marley's trademarks, along with his name and likeness, to promote business ventures thereby capitalizing on Marley's legacy even though he does not own right's to Marley's name, likeness, persona or identity.

Hope Road claimed in the complaint that the "defendants' use continues unabated and, in fact, has increased in scope." It also alleged false designation of origin, trademark infringement and dilution, and copyright infringement.

Hope Road claimed that Booker's trademarked 9 Mile Music Festival was named for the Nine Mile Village in Jamaica where Bob Marley was born and buried. It claimed that Booker had used Marley's name in conjunction with the festival, including using the headline "All For the Love of Bob Marley" in a press release promoting the event. Hope Road also claimed that Booker used copyrighted images of Bob Marley on his website to promote the event.

In addition to its claims about the festival, Hope Road claimed that Booker had used Marley's name and likeness to promote business ventures relating to food items, liquor, and tour packages.

Booker attempted to register the trademark "Mama Marley" to use in conjunction with a Jamaican food restaurant, which Hope Road filed an opposition to in August 2008.
Hope Road acknowledged that Booker did have a licensing agreement at one time to use Bob Marley's trademarks, but claimed that Booker reneged on the agreement.
Despite their differences, the parties were able to settle the case, though they are keeping details of the settlement confidential.

According to the joint stipulation filed Friday, the parties "hereby stipulate to and agree that between them they have reached a settlement resolving all claims at issue in this case and that all claims for relief alleged herein ... shall be dismissed with prejudice."