Santucci Priore, P.L. Enter Dispute Over Bob Marley Family Legacy

The attorneys of the law firm of Santucci Priore, P.L. have been retained by the Defendants in the case of Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Limited v. Richard Booker, Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc. and The Bob Marley Heritage Corporation, Case No. 1:11-cv-24326-MGC which is currently pending in the United States District Court in and for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.  The Plaintiff alleges trademark infringement,  unfair competition, dilution and unauthorized use of name and likeness claiming the exclusive right to use various Marley-related trademarks as well as Bob Marley’s name and likeness.

According to public records and the Defendants, the Defendant company Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc. was a family company formed back in 1978 for the purpose of a fan club and to distribute Bob Marley and the Wailers merchandise.  For years, the family company was run by Richard Booker and Cedella “Mama Marley” Booker who is the mother of both Bob Marley and Richard Booker.  Their mother recently passed away leaving Richard Booker as one of the remaining principals of the company.  The Nine Mile Reggae Music Festival which takes place in Miami in March of every year is operated by the Defendants Richard Booker and Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc., and is reported to have provided one million meals to hungry families.

The complete Press Release of the Defendants Richard Booker, Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc. and The Bob Marley Heritage Corporation is set forth below:

Reaction to Marley Family Dispute

“I am heartbroken by what is happening.”

This was the immediate response by Richard Booker, brother of reggae music legend Bob Marley, reacting to a recent lawsuit filed against him by a company owned by his nieces, nephews and sister-in-law in the United States District Court in Miami, Florida. Booker said, “This would not have escalated to this point if our mother were still here.”

Nonetheless, the defendants, The Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc., The Bob Marley Heritage Corp. and Richard Booker recently retained trademark/entertainment attorney Michael I. Santucci of the firm of Santucci Priore, P.L. in Fort Lauderdale to defend the lawsuit.

Despite the suit, Booker confirmed his plans to market a line of products based upon his mother Cedella “Mama Marley” Booker’s recipes to continue her legacy.  Mama Marley died April 8, 2008. Booker and his mother were longtime partners in various business ventures.

For example, the Mama Marley food project is an offshoot of the success enjoyed by the several Jamaican restaurants that have operated under the Mama Marley name for years and which made the progression to a retail line of Jamaican inspired foods. A portion of the line’s profits will go to charity.

When Richard Booker told his niece Cedella Marley Minto about his plans for the Mama Marley food line years ago, “she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic or encouraging,” according to Booker.  Minto operates the day-to-day business of 56 Hope Road Music Limited, the plaintiff in the lawsuit.  As time passed, she insisted that a piece of the trademark rights be included in her company, 56 Hope Road, a concept to which Booker and Mama Marley were at first receptive.  However additional demands were soon made including majority control and requirements that Booker contribute Mama Marley’s likeness, biography, voice, etc. to the venture.  “It was too much.  I couldn’t put out her gospel album, children’s album, or cookbook,” Booker remarked.

Another count of the complaint seeks to enjoin the presentation of the Festival by The Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc., insisting that that company now change its name. The festival has been run by Mr. Booker for almost two decades. Attorney Michael Santucci will call upon the Plaintiff to explain why it waited until now to challenge The Bob Marley Movement of Jah People’s activities, which was formed back in 1978.

Over the last 18 years, the enormously successful music festival promoted by Booker’s company celebrates Bob Marley’s birthday and has become an annual Miami tradition.  It has been a family affair with his nieces and nephews providing spirited performances that have brought audiences to their feet in their father’s memory.  Not only have they performed at the event, they have appeared in the promotion and advertising of the event presented by the “Movement,” a name inspired by Bob Marley himself.

The 2012 Nine Mile Music Festival is scheduled to take place in Miami on March 3, 2012. As usual, concert goers will be required to make a food donation as a part of the price of admission, a practice that has been estimated to have provided over one million meals to an array of charities.

The music legend personally caused the formation of the Movement for their mother in February 1978.  Originally named “Bob Marley and the Wailers Fan Club, Inc.,” the company’s purpose was to operate a fan club and to manufacture and supply Bob Marley & the Wailers souvenirs and merchandise which included tie died shirts, posters, pictures, towels, books, and various other branded items. “Plaintiff 56 Hope Road was not the first to use my brother’s name or likeness on products as a trademark.  It was the Movement,” Booker said.

Booker and his mother felt that it was only fitting that when Bob Marley passed in 1981, that the company that had served as his fan club pay tribute to his memory in song and charity by the presentation of the annual festival.

In addition to operating the “Movement,” Booker also operates Nine Mile, a tourist destination in the Jamaican mountains where Bob and their mother were both born, lived and where they have been laid to rest. The location has been the subject of numerous travelogues and attracts visitors from all over the world each year.

Booker does not think that either his mother or brother would ever have approved of allowing a family matter to become a public dispute that features unfounded allegations and name calling, according to Booker.  “In the defense of this case,” he said, “I am honoring my brother and our mother, whose memories I cherish each day.”