Supreme Court tells retailers they need permission to use Bob Marley's image

Wal-Mart, Target and others claimed they could use his face on their clothes

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 02 November 2015 16:17 GMT
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Man cycles past image of Bob Marley in Kingston, Jamaica
Man cycles past image of Bob Marley in Kingston, Jamaica

America’s highest court has indicated to some of the countries biggest clothing companies that they do not have the right to use sell shirts bearing the the image of Bob Marley.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from companies that included Wal-Mart and Target, that they did not have to obtain permission from the reggae star’s children to sell the items.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the merchandisers had used his likeness to sell clothing at Walmart, Target and other stores without permission, the Associated Press said.

Marley’s heirs control the rights to the musician’s image through a company called Fifty-Six Hope Road Music.

The company sued rivals A.V.E.L.A. and others in 2008, arguing that their sales of Marley merchandise violated federal trademark law. A federal court ordered the companies to pay more than $1m in profits and damages.

A federal appeals court agreed, citing evidence that consumers were confused about who endorsed the merchandise.

Reports have suggested that the estate of Marley, who died in 1981, is worth around $130m.

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