SEATTLE (CN) – Days after Jimi Hendrix’s estate sued the late guitar legend’s brother on trademark claims, Leon Hendrix and his co-defendants filed a countersuit, alleging defamation and tortious interference.
Leon Hendrix, Andrew Pitsicalis and two companies that sell Hendrix-themed products sued Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s stepsister; and the two companies that control Jimi’s estate, Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix. The defendant/countersuit plaintiffs are Rockin Artwork and Purple Haze Properties, both Nevada LLCs.
Jimi Hendrix died intestate in 1970, so his father, Al, inherited the estate. After Al Hendrix died in 2003, Janie Hendrix “spent millions of dollars from the Hendrix estate to successfully fight off any and all challenges to Al’s will from Leon and to completely exclude Leon and his children from receiving anything from Jimi’s estate,” according to the March 23 countersuit in King County Court.
Leon et al. claim that Janie Hendrix and her co-defendants “have continued to exclude Leon Hendrix and his family — Jimi Hendrix’s nieces and nephews by blood – from any participation or benefit from anything and everything Jimi left behind.”
Since 2003, Janie has been in charge of the estate’s music catalog, limited trademarks and property inherited by Al Hendrix, according to the complaint.
Leon claims that “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.”
The parties have a bitter history of litigation, the penultimate round being the estate’s March 16 lawsuit against the plaintiffs in this countersuit.
The estate claimed that Leon Hendrix, Pitiscalis, et al., violated Jimi Hendrix trademarks on a line of speakers, cannabis-infused drugs, T-shirts, apparel, rolling papers, bongs, dab rags, video games, hot sauce, vaporizers, and “other ancillary marijuana products.”
Leon et al. claim in the countersuit that a federal court ruled against the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation in 2006, finding that “no right of publicity descended to defendants when Jimi Hendrix died without a will in 1970, and, thus, they had no general right to stop Leon Hendrix and his associates from dealing in Jimi Hendrix’s name, likeness, and image.”
Leon’s countersuit claims Janie et al. misrepresented several court rulings and the contested will, in their lawsuit and a news release. Pitsicalis claims the estate defamed him by calling him a “serial infringer.”
As a result, the plaintiffs, say their business contacts, the licensing industry and the buying public have been given “a false impression of defendants’ Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix as the sole sources of legitimate Jimi Hendrix products.”
Leon Hendrix claims in the complaint that he is “absolutely the closest living relative to Jimi Hendrix, both in terms of blood and in terms of relationship,” and added in a statement that he believes Jimi “would want his nieces and nephews to benefit from his legacy as well, and that is all we keep trying to do.”
Attorneys for the Hendrix estate, at Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber & Herbsman in New York City, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Leon et al. seek damages for tortious interference, trade libel, defamation, and state consumer law violations.
They are represented by Thomas Osinski of Tacoma.