Business owners and operators often enter into various agreements for rights to use certain trademarks or copyrighted materials. Because intellectual property can be immensely important to companies, ensuring that the use of the materials is not abused is vital. In some cases, a company could violate a usage agreement, and business litigation could result.
Texas readers may be interested in an out-of-state case that involved such violations. According to reports, a coffee company had obtained the rights to utilize intellectual property relating to Bob Marley. The IP included the late musician's name, which the coffee company used as part of a beverage name, and trademarked images. The company entered into a usage agreement with Fifty-Six Hope Road Music and Hope Road Merchandising, which are two companies controlled by the surviving Marley family members.
Disputes arose when the Marley companies accused the coffee company of failing to pay royalties and for sub-licensing the Marley brand. Further problems arose when the coffee company reportedly continued using the intellectual property after the licenses had expired. The Marley companies filed suit against the coffee company in 2016 and were awarded $2.4 million. The coffee company filed an appeal, but the judge recently upheld the initial court ruling in favor of the Marley companies.
Many companies rightly guard their intellectual property and only allow its use with proper contracts and agreements in place. However, as this case shows, violations of those agreements could take place that could cause considerable damage. If Texas companies have faced issues with other people or entities infringing on their IP, they may want to gain information on their legal options for addressing the violations.