SEATTLE (CN) – A federal judge has found parts of Washington’s Personality Rights Act unconstitutional in a ruling that allows the use of Jimi Hendrix’s name, image and artwork over objections by the late musician’s estate.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly ruled that a company connected with Jimi’s brother, Leon Hendrix, can sell items bearing the guitarist’s likeness as long as they do not infringe on existing trademarks held by Jimi’s stepsister Janie Hendrix and her companies.
Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix, run by Janie Hendrix, sued Hendrix Licensing and Andrew Pitsicalis as “part of a continuing saga of litigation” over Hendrix’s legacy, according to the ruling. Leon Hendrix is on Hendrix Licensing’s board of directors.
Zilly’s 47-page ruling struck down the 2008 amendments to the Washington Personality Rights Act that allowed anyone to claim publicity rights in Washington even if they had no connection to the state, finding the amendments violated the Due Process and Full Faith and Credit clauses of the Constitution, as well as the Commerce clause. The ruling says the amendments were apparently enacted to restore Jimi Hendrix’s publicity rights to the Janie Hendrix-controlled companies after those rights were lost in earlier court rulings.