Marley heirs wage war on trademark pirates

COMING to a store near you: Bob Marley video games, shoes ... snowboards?

COMING to a store near you: Bob Marley video games, shoes ... snowboards?

Heirs of the Jamaican reggae legend are plunging into the global trademark wars, seeking to enforce their exclusive rights to an image that has grown steadily in scope and appeal since the Jamaican superstar died of brain cancer in 1981 at age 36.

The Marley name, look and sound are estimated to generate an estimated R4,6billion a year in sales of unlicensed wares. Legal sales are much smaller - just R30,8million for his descendants in 2007, according to Forbes magazine.

The Marleys refuse to give a figure.

Now the family has hired Toronto-based Hilco Consumer Capital to protect their rights to the brand. Hilco chief executive Jamie Salter believes Marley products could be a R7,710billion business in a few years.

"We didn't have a real good grasp on the international scope before Hilco, nor the proper management," said Marley's fourth son, Rohan.

The turn to big business has stirred some grousing from die-hard fans in Internet chat rooms, who say it goes against the grain of a singer who preached non-materialism and popularised the Rastafarian credo of oneness with nature and marijuana consumption as a sacrament. - Sapa-AP

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