The brother of late rock musician Jimi Hendrix has hit back at a trademark and copyright infringement claim brought against him by the estate of the musician.
Yesterday, March 23, Leon Hendrix and his business partner Andrew Pitsicalis, along with their businesses, sued Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix, two companies founded by the estate of Jimi Hendrix.
This followed a lawsuit brought by the estate last week accusing Leon Hendrix and Pitsicalis of attempting to “hijack trademarks and copyrights for their own personal gain”, despite courts “having repeatedly prohibited such activities”.
According to a statement from Leon Hendrix and Pitsicalis, the claim stems from a “false and misleading press release” issued by Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix announcing the
“latest misguided attempt” to deny Leon Hendrix and Pitsicalis entitlements to create Jimi Hendrix products.
The statement added that the counterclaimants have created Jimi Hendrix products legitimately for more than a decade.
Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix had claimed that Leon Hendrix and Pitsicalis had ignored prohibitions and sold cannabis, food and alcohol, and by doing so had infringed trademarks and copyright.
However, Thomas Osinski, attorney for Pitsicalis and Leon Hendrix, had disputed some of the allegations included in the estate’s claim.
In the latest round, Leon Hendrix said that his step-sister, the owner of Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix, is in charge of Jimi Hendrix’s music catalogue, “limited” trademarks and inherited property.
“As a matter of law, based on prior court decisions, neither defendant Janie Hendrix nor her defendant companies own anything else related to Jimi Hendrix, including specifically no general publicity or personality right that gives them control of the likeness, endorsement of, or association with, Jimi Hendrix,” said the claim.
According to the suit, the estate brought a series of legal challenges to any Jimi Hendrix-related activity that Leon Hendrix engaged in.
This began with a 2006 challenge to Leon Hendrix’s operation of the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation, a charitable body.
According to the claim, a district court found—and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed—that no right of publicity had been handed to the estate when Jimi Hendrix died without a will.
Because of this, the estate had no general right to stop Leon Hendrix and his associates from dealing in Jimi Hendrix’s name, likeness and image.
The claim goes on to outline the subsequent disputes between the parties, including a row over alcoholic beverages at the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
Pitsicalis said: “We have filed this suit to show the world, once again, that Leon and his family have a right to Jimi’s legacy too. We have built two great companies that produce amazing products for Jimi’s fans.”
He added that the companies are an alternative source to obtain a “licence granting use of our proprietary and exclusive images and other assets not available to the estate”, since they belong to two of Pitsicalis’s and Leon Hendrix’s businesses.
Leon Hendrix and Pitsicalis are seeking compensatory damages, statutory damages, declaratory judgment that the defendants’ statements were false and misleading and should be enjoined, and attorneys’ fees and costs.