Bob Marley: Companies Getting Sued By A Dead Man?

Bob Marley may be the first person to be fighting a court battle from beyond the grave. JD Supra Business Advisorreported today that a company known as Fifth Six Hope Road Music, Ltd. owned by Marley’s children, is teaming up with Zion Rootswear, Inc. to sue a variety of different companies who allegedly used Marley’s likeness on t-shirts and other types of merchandise without obtaining the rights from Fifth Six first. The jury presiding over the case ruled in favor of Hope Road, awarding them about $800,000 US in addition to attorney’s fees, JD Supra Business Advisor noted.

Marley, who Wikipedia notes was born Nesta Robert Marley in St. Ann, Jamacia, in 1945, rose to fame singing spiritual Reggae music that reflected his faith in Rastafarianism, a religion that developed in Jamacia in the 1930’s and believes that former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is God. For those who haven’t heard Marley’s work, feel free to check out the video below.

In addition to being spiritual, Marley’s music offered a message of peace and love for one’s fellow human being, and Marley espoused this message in his daily life. As Inquisitr reported, Marley was known for giving writing credits for his songs to the poor so they could receive royalties, and once even did the same for a soup kitchen run by a friend of his.

As many may know, Marley was also an outspoken proponent of recreational Marijuana use and legalization; he and his family formed a company called Marley Natural, which sells Cannabis Oil extracted from the Marijuana plant for medical and health purposes. He passed away in 1981 at the age of 36.

The Music Timesdelved further into the legal concepts behind the case, citing the Lanham Act, a law which “protects against false advertising and trademark infringement.” The Music Times also added that this court victory could be huge for other celebrities who don’t want their likenesses being used without companies obtaining a license or permission. The incident is evocative of another event several months ago, when Taylor Swift pulled her new album 1989 off of Spotify (though, presumably, not for legal reasons so much as encouraging people to pay for the album).

With the continuing popularity of Marley’s image being used on everything from t-shirts to Jamaican flags, it’s likely other companies could soon be staring down the wrong end of a subpoena. As the Music Times stated, Marley’s family has been fighting this battle since 2008 when it sued A.V.E.L.A., a company selling Bob Marley T-shirts that was later ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages.

As perhaps one of the most iconic figures in modern music, it’s natural that Marley would have his image ripped off by companies looking to get a piece of the pie. Does it make sense for Marley’s estate to sue, or are they violating the free expression of the companies by trying to dictate what can and cannot be sold? We know what the legal ruling is, but what’s your opinion?

[Photo Credit: Inquisitr]