A years-long battle for control over Jimi Hendrix’s estate has spilled into the rapidly-growing cannabis market, with relatives of the guitar legend on both sides of a lawsuit over branded products bearing Hendrix’s name and likeness, including edibles and marijuana cigarettes.
(We’re going to get pretty deep into the legal, uh, weeds here, so you might want to break out that 15-minute “Voodoo Chile” cut from “Electric Ladyland” to help you get through it.)
The suit details years of legal battles between the Hendrix estate and Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s brother. Jimi’s father, Al Hendrix, was originally the sole heir of the estate, passing control to Jimi’s adopted sister, Janie Hendrix and a cousin, Robert Hendrix, upon his death in 2002 and explicitly cutting out Leon Hendrix. The estate licenses official products through two companies, Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix.
According to the suit, Leon Hendrix and his business partner, Andrew Pitsicatis, have repeatedly attempted to “hijack” the Hendrix copyrights and trademarks for their own gain. Numerous court cases over that period of time have bound Leon Hendrix and Pitsicatis from using Hendrix’s name and image on products for sale.
In the suit, the Hendrix estate argues that Leon Hendrix and Pitsicatis have, despite those repeated court orders, again violated their trademarks. One of the exhibits offered into evidence includes beverages and cannabis products marketed under the name “Jimi,” with images and words strongly associated with Hendrix:
The suit alleges that the infringement covers a wide variety of products, including “Cannabis, edibles, food, wine, alcohol, ‘medicines,’ electronic products, and other goods.” The estate claims that the defendants are “undaunted by their previously failed and enjoined efforts to exploit the Hendrix (trademarks)” and that they have “now aggressively escalated their conduct into a full-scale assault” on the estate’s legal rights.
The suit also takes aim at Pitsicalis specifically, saying that he has asserted that his company, Purple Haze Properties, claims that it “… represents the greatest guitarist in Rock ‘n’ Roll history, ‘my man, Jimi Hendrix,” while the Hendrix estate is the only legal representative of Jimi Hendrix’s name, likeness and legacy.
(It’s hard to imagine Jimi, had he lived to old age, caring about much of this, isn’t it? He’d probably just light up a joint and quote himself from “Live At Berkeley”: “Everything’s, like, relaxed, everything … forget about yesterday or tomorrow, whatever you say, this is our own little world, and we’re just going in this groove a little bit.” Or would be he licensing “Purple Haze” to Welch’s to sell grape juice?)
The suit asks for unspecified damages and asks that the court permanently bar Leon Hendrix and Pitsicatis from using Hendrix’s name and image for future profit.
In a statement to Hypebot, Thomas Osinski, a lawyer for Leon Hendrix and Pitsicatis, called the suit “frivolous” and promised to file “appropriate counter suits and/or counter claims to vindicate their rights and punish these slanderous and false attacks once and for all.” He added that the pair have been dealing in Hendrix-related merchandise and products for years, “following a string of successful court cases with the estate and exclusive deals for rights to various Jimi Hendrix copyrighted images and original artistic creations.”
H/T to TheWrap.com