Bob Marley’s Family Wants End to Agreement with Denver-Based Marley Coffee

Marley Coffee, a company based in Denver, Colorado, is suing Rohan Marley, its former chairperson, over the decision of the family of reggae legend Bob Marley to end the licensing agreement made with the firm founded in 2007. Without this agreement, the struggling brand and its parent firm Jammin Java, will cease to exist. According to the lawsuit, Bob Marley’s son Rohan Marley violated a 15-year licensing agreement with the coffee company when he and Marley’s estate introduced a Marley Coffee Jamaica brand with a company in Korea. Rohan Marley resigned from Marley Coffee in June 2016. Bob Marley’s estate, which operates as Hope Road Merchandising and 56 Hope Road Music, issued an order to Jammin Java to stop using the Marley name and likeness in late June 2016. The estate argued that Jammin Java violated the licensing agreement by failing to make royalty payments, but the Denver-based firm counters that Rohan and the estate violated the agreement. It has requested that the United States District Court in Central California reject ending the licensing deal. Since 2011, Marley Coffee’s sales rose from approximately $403,000 to over $12.3 million in revenue. The product is sold in 12,500 stores, including retail chains such as Safeway, Target, and Kroger. The firm paid $1.5 million for shelf space in those chain stores, plus $1.2 million to promote its presence in the retailers. Anh Tran, president of Jammin Java, said that the business depends on its right to use the Marley Coffee brand name and additional intellectual property owned by Marley’s family. Tran also argued that Marley Coffee would not be as well known or have the same high value if it were not for Jammin Java. The company faces other difficulties as well, as it is part of another lawsuit involving its former CEO Shane Whittle and Marley’s estate. The U.S, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Whittle with heading an illegal securities offering that obtained at least $78 million in illegal profits. The firm settled the allegations in May 2016 for $700,000. Trans says that unless a restraining order is issued by the court to suspend the termination of the licensing agreement, Jammin Java will default on its loans, cease delivery of Marley Coffee to its retail network, end marketing efforts, and end negotiations with potential investors, all of which will cause the company to “die.”

Photo Source: Marley Coffee