Marley Family Wins Lawsuit

A Las Vegas federal jury sided with the family of Bob Marley Jan. 21 that a Reno-based merchandise company that used the late musician’s image without the family’s permission owes Marley’s widow and offspring a minimum of $300,000 in damages.

“The verdict sends a clear message to anyone who would challenge the integrity of our father’s legacy,” Rohan Marley said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Preserving it remains one of our top priorities and we will continue to aggressively pursue legal actions against those who attempt to unfairly profit from his life and legacy.”

The lawsuit, filed by Fifty-Six Hope Road and Zion Rootswear in 2008, accused AVELA and owner Leo Valencia of intentionally interfering with the family’s business arrangements and engaging in unfair competition by selling T-shirts and other products bearing the late reggae star’s image to retail outlets such as Target, Walmart and Wet Seal, according to the paper.

Jurors reportedly awarded the family $300,000 on an intentional interference claim. A U.S. District Court judge is expected to award additional damages from lost profits.

Defense attorney Douglas Winter said his clients plan to appeal.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the verdict. We don’t believe that a false endorsement was actually proven in the case,” Winter told the Review-Journal. “We don’t believe that the evidence established that consumers are likely to be confused that Bob Marley or his heirs sponsor or approved defendants’ products.”