The ONE LOVE trademark dispute between Bob Marley’s estate and Raising Cane’s chicken finger restaurant raises some interesting trademark and copyright issues. According to Louisiana newspapers, the trademark dispute recently settled on undisclosed terms; however, the issue at the heart of the dispute is interesting.
THE ISSUE: Trademarking someone else’s song title for restaurant services.
THE STORY: In 2005, Raising Cane’s chicken finger restaurant obtained a USPTO registered trademark for ONE LOVE to be used to sell “restaurant services” (Reg. No. 3033511). This same phrase ONE LOVE is part of the title and refrain to the famous Bob Marley tune, “One Love/People Get Ready,” recorded with his band The Wailers. In 2007, Marley’s estate (represented by Fifty-Six Hope Road Music) applied for a USPTO trademark registration for ONE LOVE for “hotel, bar, and restaurant services” but was refused trademark registration because of the pre-existing ONE LOVE trademark registered to Raising Cane’s for similar services. (A likelihood-of-confusion refusal). The dispute escalated, the courts became involved and evidently the parties recently settled on undisclosed terms.
THE SCOOP: As demonstrated by this series of events, the title of a song will not necessarily block or cancel a USPTO trademark application or registration. Songs and original music are protected by copyright laws; however, copyright protection does not extend to short phrases and titles. The USPTO trademark registration system is available for protecting short phrases. Timing of a USPTO application is also a determinative factor. For example, if Bob Marley’s estate had applied for a ONE LOVE trademark to be used with restaurant and related services BEFORE Raising Cane’s applied for it, then the outcome would likely be reversed and Marley’s estate would have blocked Raising Cane’s trademark application.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
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See also: “One Love” dispute transfer order at http://www.scribd.com/doc/206584538/One-Love-dispute-transfer-order; an earlier blog post: Title Copycats; News articles: Raising Cane’s, Bob Marley estate reach agreement by Joe Gyan Jr, Bob Marley’s estate’s legal saga over Raising Cane’s ‘One Love’ to play out in Louisiana by Emily Lane on 2/11/14, and Raising Cane’s, Bob Marley’s estate settle ‘One Love’ slogan dispute by Diana Samuels on 5/23/14; the USPTO trademark search at http://www.uspto.gov/ @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.