Hendrix Estate Sues Singer’s Brother Again Over Trademarks

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By Malathi Nayak

Two companies representing rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix’s estate sued his brother March 16 in a long-running dispute over the use of trademarks and copyrights in Hendrix-themed products such as “Jimi’s Cannabis Collection Purple Haze” and “Jimi’s Wines” ( Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. et al v. Pitsicalis et al , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:17-cv-01927, complaint filed 3/16/17 ).

Washington state-based Experience Hendrix LLC and Authentic Hendrix LLC filed the complaint against Leon Hendrix; his business partner, Andrew Pitsicalis; and their company, Purple Haze Properties LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. It follows similar suits Hendrix’s estate has filed against the musician’s brother during the last decade. Both companies hold the rights to intellectual property that belonged to Hendrix.

Jimi’s father, Al Hendrix, who died in 2002, bequeathed the ownership of the Hendrix estate, including the two companies, to family members but excluded Leon Hendrix.

The defendants recently “renewed and expanded” their alleged infringement of Hendrix’s trademarks and copyrights “through the creation, development, licensing, manufacturing, promotion, advertising and sale of cannabis, edibles, food, wine, alcohol, ‘medicines,’ electronic products, and other goods,” the two companies said in their complaint.

Thomas Osinki, an attorney representing Leon Hendrix, Pitsicalis and Purple Haze, told Bloomberg BNA in an email that the companies brought “this frivolous suit now only to further tarnish and interfere with Jimi’s brother Leon’s lawful and proper business that rightfully respects Jimi Hendrix’s legacy.”

The two companies representing Hendrix’s estate did not immediately respond to a request for comment. They hold the rights to Hendrix’s trademarks, including “Jimi Hendrix” and his signature, as well as copyrights on his popular composition “Purple Haze” and album “Axis: Bold As Love,” they said in the complaint.

Lengthy Fight

Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix have asked the court to stop the defendants from using the Hendrix estate’s trademarks and copyrights in products for sale and sought damages for allegedly wrongful gains by the defendants.

Previously, the defendants filed trademark applications, such as those through an entity called Jimi Electronics Inc., to trademark “Jimi” and “Jimi Jams” for audio speaker products. The Patent and Trademark Office denied the applications, saying they would create a likelihood of confusion with the Hendrix estate’s registered marks, according to the complaint.

The two companies have previously filed infringement suits against Leon Hendrix, Pitsicalis and companies with which they were associated .

In 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found that Leon Hendrix and his business partners wrongfully marketed and sold vodka and other merchandise using Hendrix’s signature and headshot marks, following an infringement complaint by the two companies.

Following another suit in 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted a partial injunction against Tiger Paw Distributors LLC, which had partnered with Leon Hendrix to sell a line of alcoholic drinks, including “Purple Haze Liqueur.”

The Georgia court banned the defendants from using the word “Jimi” in packaging or promotional materials, including web addresses, but declined to grant an injunction based on trademark dilution claims.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bna.com

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

For More Information

Complaint available at http://src.bna.com/m5v.

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