Richard Booker, the half brother of reggae music legend Bob Marley, said he will fight a lawsuit seeking to stop him from using the Marley name in several business ventures without authorisation.
Booker and Bob Marley shares the same mother, Cedella Booker, who passed away in 2008.
Earlier this month a lawsuit was filed by Rita Marley, Bob’s widow, and 9 of Marley’s children. The suit was filed in Miami federal court on behalf of a Bahamian company that represents the Marley’s.
“I am heartbroken by what is happening,” Booker said. “In defence of this case, I am honouring my brother and our mother, whose memories I cherish each day.”
The lawsuit is asking a judge to stop Booker from using Marley’s name, image, lyrics and other intellectual property unless he reaches a licensing agreement to do so with the family company, Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd.
“Mr Booker’s sympathetic position is that he is honouring his brother Bob Marley by taking something he does not own and exploiting it for his own personal gain,” said Jill Peitrini, attorney for Fifty-Six Hope Road. “We don’t call that honour, we call it infringement and we look forward to defending our claim in court.”
Booker’s ventures include the Mama Marley restaurants in Jamaica. He also has plans to market an offshoot recipe book. The music festival, to be held for the 19th time in March, uses the Nine Mile name that stems from the district in St Ann where Marley grew up and is now buried. Three of Marley’s sons are scheduled to perform, despite the dispute.
Booker also has a Nine Mile tour business in Jamaica and the music festival is promoted by another company of his, Bob Marley Movement of Jah People Inc. That entity, he said, was first formed in 1978 as a fan club.
Booker said in a statement that his and Marley’s mother participated in many of these businesses before she died three yeas ago. He suggested that the Marley family is only now challenging his use of the name in order to get a cut of his profits.
“This would not have escalated to this point if our mother were still here,” Booker said.
The Marley lawsuit contends the family has long opposed Booker’s use of the name and has been unable to negotiate a licensing deal. The family said in a statement that they are “hopeful that they will be able to amicably resolve their dispute with Mr Booker and remain ready and willing to do so”.