LEGENDARY reggae star, Bob Marley is making headlines after 34 years of his exit as he was listed among Forbes’ richest dead celebrities yet again. The list was released on a day, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from clothing companies claiming legal rights to sell shirts with the image of the reggae icon. The iconic reggae singer moved up one place from last year to take fourth place on the list of highest-earning dead celebrities.
Marley reportedly raked in a cool $21 million over the past year, one million more than he earned last year. In addition to his music, much of the late singer’s annual earnings came from the Marley Beverage company, producers of the drink Marley’s Mellow Mood and House of Marley, makers of the eco-friendly audio and lifestyle products bearing the entertainer’s name.
The $21 million earned by Marley over the last year may seem a lot, but is only a mere drop in the money pool when compared to the figure grossed by the highest dead earner on Forbes’ list.
The top spot is occupied by none other than the King of Pop , Michael Jackson. The late singer holds the number one position for yet another year, raking in a cool $115 million over the past year. The main drivers of Jackson’s afterlife fortune include the Vegas Cirque du Soleil show – Michael Jackson One – the Mijac Music catalogue, recorded music sales and half of the Sony /ATV publishing empire.
From the King of Pop to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Presley came in at number two on the list, earning $55 million. Cartoonist Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts character, is number three on the list with earnings of $40 million, while legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor completes the top five with a $20-million earning over the last year.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press, earlier in the week reported how the United States Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand that merchandisers used Marley’s likeness to sell clothing at Wal-Mart, Target and other stores without permission from the reggae legend’s children.
The report stated that Marley’s children control the rights to the reggae star’s image through a company called Fifty-Six Hope Road Music. The company sued rivals A.V.E.L.A. and others in 2008, arguing that their sales of the late reggae singer’s merchandise violated federal trademark law. A federal court ordered the companies to pay more than US$1 million in profits and damages.
The court agreed citing evidence on a Lanham Act claim made by the plaintiffs that consumers were confused about who endorsed the merchandise. The Lanham Act protects against false advertising and trademark infringement.