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9th Circuit upholds judgment in Bob Marley infringement case

Jammin Java Corp. failed in its appeal of a ruling that awarded Hope Road damages for breach of contract and trademark infringement. Hope Road controls the rights to the works of the famous reggae artist Bob Marley. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the previous decision made in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The central district court had favored Hope Road with a partial summary judgment that ordered Jammin Java to pay damages of $2.83 million. This sum represented $2.46 million related to trademark infringement and $371,159 for unpaid royalties.

Hope Road had licensed Jammin Java to use Marley's name for Marley Coffee products. According to the court papers, trouble arose when Jammin Java began missing royalty payments and licensed the Marley trademark without permission to third parties.

During the appeal, representatives for Jammin Java had insisted that the district court should have recognized the fact that the parties orally changed the royalty payment schedule. Additionally, the defendant argued that damages should not have included profits made during the infringing period because no proof of willful trademark infringement had been presented. The panel of appeals court judges, however, cited a 1995 decision that did not require willfulness in infringement for the award of damages.

Infringement cases involving trademarks or other intellectual property depend on many details. A person who might need to engage in business litigation like this could benefit from the services of an attorney familiar with patent, trademark and contract laws. A detailed legal analysis could inform the person about the strength of a position. These legal insights could lead to a strategy that protects the person's interests.

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