Just as relatives of the greatest guitar player ever finally resolved a bitter six-year legal battle, Jimi Hendrix’s family might be heading back into the courtroom.
According to the Seattle Times, the resolved lawsuit involved trademark infringement with Experience Hendrix—the company that owns the rights to the Hendrix estate and is controlled by Jimi’s step-sister Janie Hendrix—and HendrixLicensing.com (operated by Jimi’s younger brother Leon Hendrix and his partner Andrew Pitsicalis) duking it out. The case was settled out of court for damages associated with the sale of merchandise, T-shirts, posters, etc.
The extended family feud started shortly after Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 at the age of 27. Because Jimi had no will, everything went to his father James “Al” Hendrix, who passed away in 2002. Al left the estimated $80 million estate under the sole control of his adopted daughter, Janie Hendrix, leaving Leon and his seven children essentially disinherited.
While the judge in this summer’s settlement banned Pitsicalis and Leon from using Hendrix’s name in their businesses, he did not issue a blanket ban on everything.
“Janie continues to refer to her company as an ‘exclusive Hendrix family company,’ erasing the existence of Jimi’s blood brother Leon and his children,” Pitsicalis explained to High Times about why they are heading back to court.
Pitsicalis said that Janie recently hired the music merchandising company Bravado, which “is causing confusion by claiming our company is not a Hendrix family company, which it clearly is.”
As a result, Rockin Artwork is suing Bravado for making consumers believe that their merchandise is not authentic. The complaint states that Bravado is directly contacting prospective merchandising licensees and incorrectly informing them that Rockin Artwork is not authorized to enter into business agreements to sell Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.
“A lot of companies are afraid to buy our merchandise,” Pitsicalis said. “Janie Hendrix, through Bravado, is interfering with our company.”
Thomas Osinski, general council for Rockin Artwork, said the case against Bravado seeks to show that Janie Hendrix is not the only person in the Hendrix family and that Leon’s companies are also legitimate.
“Leon and Rockin Art want to establish that their merchandise is legitimate and that Janie has no more of a claim than we do,” Osinski explained. “She controls Jimi’s music, but in terms of other things, we want to stop being told we can’t be involved. We’re family, too.”
Rockin Art’s publicist Kevin Chiaramonte concurred that Leon Hendrix and Pitsicalis have the right “to fight back and not be bullied by allowing Janie to overstep her bounds and monopolize the marketplace.”
Chiaramonte pointed out that Rockin Art filed their lawsuit against Bravado on the 45th anniversary of Jimi’s death as a way of “demanding respect for Jimi Hendrix’s blood relatives.”
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