Bob Marley: One Love Trademark Fight Heads To The Bayou

Bob Marley & the Wailers One Love starts out:

One love

One heart

Let’s get together and feel all right

The 1977 tune’s feel good vibe became Marley’s signature song. According to the official Bob Marleywebsite, Marley’s album Exodus, which included One Love, was named “Album of the Century” by TIME. What’s more, the BBC named One Love the “Song of the Millennium.”

Apparently, Bob Marley’s family isn’t feeling the love – at least not when it comes to the restaurant industry.

The row has to do with the use of the phrase “One Love” for marketing and promotional purposes.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based fast food chain Raising Cane’s trademarked the phrase to promote its signature chicken fingers in 2005.

According to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Raising Cane’s CEO Todd Graves claims that the restaurant chain has been using the phrase for promotional purposes since 2001 and obtained a legal trademark after four years of using the phrase informally. The phrase appears as “Cane’s One Love” on their restaurant menus. According to Graves, the reason they began using the phrase was to highlight their “focused menu,” which features only chicken fingers, fries, cole slaw and Texas toast.

Bob Marley’s estate, which includes his widow and several of his children, is alleging that the phrase is too similar to “Marley One Love,” a phrase they claim to have trademarked for restaurant purposes as early as 1999. Their lawsuit further alleges that the Louisiana-based restaurant chain “maliciously” interfered with the Marley estate’s business dealings and that they intentionally hijacked the phrase from Bob Marley’s One Love.

The problem started when 56 Hope Road Music, a company owned by Marley’s widow Rita and her children, attempted to trademark the phrase One Love for bar and restaurant purposes in 2009 and were denied. Both sides claim to have attempted to negotiate in good faith to avoid litigation.

According to a report in The Advocate, Marley’s estate filed the lawsuit on Dec. 6, 2013 in federal court in Massachusetts. Raising Cane’s requested that the case be transferred to Louisiana. The Advocate quotes the Marley estate’s lawyers saying, “Simply stated, all of the arguments advanced by Raising Cane’s in seeking to transfer the venue of this matter from Massachusetts to Louisiana are ‘out of tune.'”

U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns disagreed. While Raising Cane’s does have an eatery in Boston, that outlet is their only establishment on the East Coast. Raising Cane’s offices are in Baton Rouge and most of its restaurants are in the Middle Louisiana region. Stearns transferred the case to Louisiana, where it will be heard by U.S. District Judge James Brady.

What do you think? Should Raising Cane’s be allowed to continue using the phrase One Love to promote their restaurants or is it too similar to the iconic Bob Marley One Love for everybody to just get together and feel all right?