The Bob Marley estate has sued a chicken fingers chain for adopting the phrase "One Love" as its trademark. The lawsuit was filed on Friday, December 6, in a Massachusetts U.S. district court by 56 Hope Road — the Bahamas-based company run by Robert Nesta Marley's children and widow, Rita — against Raising Cane's, a restaurant headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with locations in a handful of states.
While the latter claims no affiliation otherwise to the legacy of the late, great Reggae artist, they've been using the words in question since late 2001 on their menus, merchandise, and other promotional materials. Below, Louisiana cheerleaders can be seen chanting "One Love," which of course is the name of one of Marley's most well-known songs. Complicating matters, Cane's successfully registered the use years ago.
But they did so without ever consulting the Marleys, who allege that move to hijack the words was "willful and deliberate." The counts leveled against the defendant include trademark infringement, false association, trademark dilution, cancellation of the aforementioned trademark registrations, common law trademark infringement, and intentional interference with advantageous business relations.
While Hope Road legally has the trademark to the phrase in certain circumstances, Cane's retains the right in others, which has led to the Marleys' attempts to register for different uses to be denied. In the lawsuit itself, which SPIN has obtained, they make a strong case, first citing the song, which was recorded by Marley in 1965, released with the Wailers in 1977 on Exodus, and included in the 1984 hits collection Legend.
The plaintiff also points out that the BBC dubbed "One Love" song of the millennium in 2009. Furthermore, Hope Road has used "One Love" as the name of its clothing and merchandise brand, as seen on everything from T-shirts, visors, and scarves, to incense, jewelry, and bumper stickers. In order to really drive the point home, they bring up a properly licensed Universal Studios restaurant dubbed Bob Marley, a Tribute to Freedom.
So, no, it's not looking good for Raising Cane's — Hope Road has requested to-be-determined damages, plus attorney's fees, and whatever profits the chain has made using the name. But really, shouldn't it come down to who wore it best?