Hendrix Heir Gets Partial Injunction Against Themed Booze

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By Peter Leung

June 23 — The holder of trademarks and copyrights that belonged to Jimi Hendrix has blocked the seller of Purple Haze Liqueur from using several Hendrix-themed trademarks ( Experience Hendrix, LLC v. Tiger Paw Distribs., LLC , 2016 BL 199541 2016 BL 199541, S.D. Ga., No. CV 416-107, 6/22/16 ).

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted a partial injunction June 22 against Tiger Paw Distributors LLC that stops it from use of the word “Jimi” in its packaging or promotional materials, including web addresses.

Tiger Paw is also enjoined from using pictures of Hendrix's signature. The court declined to enjoin several other marks, including the name “Purple Haze Liqueur” and a stylized image of a person resembling Hendrix.

Despite the fact that the plaintiffs scored a partial win, the defendants are allowed to keep using some trademarks that evoke the musician.

Experience Hendrix LLC and Authentic Hendrix LLC are run by Jimi Hendrix's sister, and the two companies hold all the rights transferred from the rock musician's estate.

The defendants, including Tiger Paw and Jimi Hendrix's brother, started selling Purple Haze liqueur, a reference to one of Hendrix's most famous songs. The packaging and material include many references to the musician, including photographs, images of Hendrix's signature and a drawn logo that looks similar to Hendrix. Tiger Paw also promotes the product on the Jimi Purple Haze website.

The plaintiffs sued for trademark infringement and dilution. The court granted the preliminary injunction for infringement of trademark registrations based on Hendrix's name and his signature.

Denying injunctive relief would cause the plaintiffs irreparable harm, it said.

In determining that the plaintiffs had a strong likelihood of success, the court pointed out that the marks based on Hendrix's name are particularly strong because of his “undeniable fame.”

The court also found a strong likelihood of confusion, in particular with marks based on Hendrix's name and signature; the unique spelling of “Jimi” supported that finding. Tiger Paw's Hendrix signature was technically different from the plaintiffs' registered mark, but the court still found a strong likelihood of confusion.

By contrast, the court found Tiger Paw's other marks, including the word mark “Purple Haze,” were not similar to the plaintiffs' registered marks. And the sketch of a man on its liqueur bottle isn't similar to a Jimi Hendrix “bust” mark registered to the plaintiffs, it said.

Famous Mark, Not Famous Man

The court declined to grant an injunction based on the trademark dilution claims.

To establish dilution, a trademark owner must establish that the mark is famous, and that the defendant diluted the mark by using it in commerce. In this case, the court found that the plaintiffs established that Jimi Hendrix is famous, but not that the marks are.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Leung in Washington at pleung@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at mwilczek@bna.com

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