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Leon Hendrix in contempt of court for again exploiting Experience Hendrix trademarks

By | Published on Tuesday 12 January 2021

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix’s brother Leon is again facing sanctions for trademark infringement. A court in New York yesterday ruled that he was in contempt for continuing to use the Jimi Hendrix name and brand without permission, despite a previous injunction banning such activity.

Leon has had various disputes over the years with Experience Hendrix LLC, the company that manages the late musician’s legacy, and which is run by his adopted sister Janie.

Most recently there was legal action over Leon’s business partnership with a man called Andrew Pitsicalis, which infringed an assortment of trademarks and copyrights controlled by the Experience Hendrix company. As a result of that litigation, a New York court issued permanent injunctions against both Leon and Pitsicalis banning them from making use of the Jimi Hendrix brand.

But since then Leon and his daughter Tina have sold memorabilia, raised funds and organised events using said brand. Among other things, Leon gave an interview to promote a supposed Jimi Hendrix guitar, sales of which he would personally profit from. Also, Leon and Tina together organised and sponsored a ‘Jimi Hendrix 50th Anniversary Memorial Peace & Love March For Equity’ last September, where they sold promotional items.

These activities all breached the 2019 injunction, the court ruled yesterday. “The defendants have not demonstrated any attempt to comply with the permanent injunction, let alone a diligent one”, judge Paul A Engelmayer concluded. “Further, the breaches here, by nature, were avoidable … Defendants were at liberty to market, by means other than using [Experience Hendrix’s] marks, the goods and services that they sought to promote and sell”.

“They chose, however, to exploit Jimi Hendrix’s name and likeness”, the judge added, “no doubt concluding that it stood to reap them larger returns”.

Holding Leon in contempt, the ruling concluded: “Given Leon Hendrix’s history of noncompliance, the court finds that a fine will be appropriate if he continues to ignore this court’s orders aimed at protecting [Experience Hendrix’s] intellectual property rights. Accordingly, if by 60 days from the date of this order, Leon Hendrix has not complied with the foregoing directives, he must pay a penalty of $100 per day to plaintiffs”.