Products like “Hey Joe” Merlot and “Wammy Bar” ice cream edibles have stoked a decades-long battle between Jimi Hendrix’s surviving family members — and now a new lawsuit aims to shred a line of products including liquor and marijuana.
A company run by Jimi’s adopted sister Janie, who controls the guitar legend’s estate, filed suit this week against his brother, Leon Hendrix, and Leon’s business partner over a trademark dispute, according to documents obtained by Mashable.
At issue are several lines of novelty merchandise bearing the late musician’s name and likeness, including weed, food, liquor, and electronic products.
Leon sells these hippie-kitsch items through a company called Purple Haze Properties LLC with longtime friend Andrew Pitsicalis.
Janie, and other family members behind Jimi’s estate, run a more polished operation at Authentic Hendrix LLC, where you can buy Blu-Ray concert tapes, posters and clothing that actually looks like something you might see in a retail store.
That company and affiliate Experience Hendrix LLC, which owns all of the Jimi-related rights, claim in a lawsuit filed Thursday in a Los Angeles district court that Leon’s shop has “attempted to hijack trademarks and copyrights for their own personal gain.”
It’s the latest of many episodes in this iteration of the Hendrix family feud, which started when the estate’s previous owner, Jimi’s father Al Hendrix, died in 2002 and cut Leon out of the will in favor of Janie.
In the past decade, Leon and Pitsicalis have lost other lawsuits over their attempts to market various products with Jimi’s name — most recently, a bottle of “Purple Haze liqueur” last year.
“Undaunted by their previously failed and enjoined efforts to exploit the Hendrix marks,” the complaint reads, “Leon and the Pitsicalis defendants have now aggressively escalated their conduct into a full-scale assault.”
When asked for comment, Pitsicalis emailed a letter from their lawyer with a point-by-point rebuttal of each paragraph of the press release accompanying the lawsuit.
The rebuttal got into the weeds of each of the past cases but the gist was that the other side exaggerated the scope of each of the victories and misleading represented multiple decisions within the same case as separate victories.
“Experience Hendrix has long known of my clients’ legal and proper Jimi Hendrix products and brings 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 lawyer, Thomas Osinski, wrote.
There was also some more personal family business. Osinski notes that Leon is Jimi’s “actual brother that grew up with him” and his family in Seattle. Even this fact has been litigated — Leon sued Janie for defamation at one point after she referred to him as Jimi’s half-brother.
The long and bitter courtroom beef between the family members can be traced back to Jimi’s death sans-will in 1970, according to the Seattle Times.