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Jammin Java Chief Says Company Will Pursue Legal Battle To Keep Marley Coffee Brand, But Readies Alternative

Posted On: 10/14/2016

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TAGS: office coffee service, Marley Coffee, Brent Toevs, Jammin Java, Marley Coffee lawsuit, Rohan Marley, Hope Road Merchandising, Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, single-serve

DENVER -- In an Oct. 7 letter to shareholders, Brent Toevs, chief executive of Jammin Java (dba Marley Coffee), said the company will continue its legal battle against Rohan Marley and his family for the long haul if the two parties do not reach a resolution regarding rights to the Marley brand.

The Denver-based coffee company in August filed a lawsuit against former chairman Rohan Marley, son of the reggae legend, and two companies owned by his family -- Hope Road Merchandising (HRM) and Fifty-Six Hope Road Music (56 HR) -- seeking to retain the rights to its 15-year licensing deal for the Marley Coffee brand. HRM and 56HR ordered Jammin Java in late June to stop using the Marley name and likeness, charging that the coffee company breached its licensing agreement by failing to make royalty payments, among other accusations.

The company also announced in July that Marley Coffee founder Rohan Marley had stepped down as chairman of the company. | SEE STORY

Toevs said in his Oct. 7 letter to shareholders that "to date, 56HR has not cooperated in finding a solution."

The company is seeking damages and a full legal recognition of the validity of its Marley Coffee license with 56 Hope Road, named after Bob Marley's former place of residence in Jamaica. "Though our ideal objective is a business solution, we believe that this litigation is a significant asset," said Toevs. "The company was defrauded, and we are seeking monetary damages in the tens of millions of dollars."

He said a trial will take place in March and that "the litigation has not resulted in the company being ordered to stop doing business before trial."

In the meantime, Toevs said the company is developing a line of "non-Marley" products under the Jammin Java name and plans to distribute them through its existing channels beginning in November. The line will feature premium coffee in ground and whole bean formats, as well as single-serve capsules compatible with Keurig, Nespresso and Dolce Gusto brewers.

Toevs said the Marley Coffee has also discussed with potential investors the possibility of acquiring a roasting and distribution company.

Since litigation began, Toevs said Marley Coffee has closed its main office in California and reduced its workforce. He said the company has not considered bankruptcy restructuring, but admitted: "We cannot guarantee that a debt holder will not try and put the business into involuntary bankruptcy."

While admitting that credit is still tight, Toevs said Marley Coffee has structured a credit deal with National Coffee Roasters for its ground and whole bean products.

He said the company's executives and some employees are being paid in primarily stock options, and may sell shares over the next few weeks in order to recoup compensation. The Marley Coffee chief added that the majority of shares the current executives have received over the past two years have not been sold.

"These have been difficult times, and our resources and energy have been focused on our operations," Toevs said. "We are doing everything we can to restructure the company so that it has legs for the future. This includes streamlining our business and cutting costs while maintaining as many accounts as possible."