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Court in Jimi Hendrix Case Finds Washington Publicity Law Unconstitutional

(SEATTLE WA.) With a catalog that has sold over 20 million albums in the U.S. alone, it’s understandable why Jimi Hendrix is still making headlines over 40 years after his untimely death.

Recently, Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s stepsister and the head of Seattle-based Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix, filed a lawsuit against Las Vegas-based Hendrix Licensing. Hendrix Licensing is controlled by Andrew Pitsicalis, and is most known for having Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s blood brother, on their board of directors. They have since reformed as Rockin Artwork.

Tuesday, the United States District Court ruled in favor of Pitsicalis and his companies’ right to deal in Jimi’s image and likeness and to use his name in association with them, stating that Janie and her company, Experience Hendrix, have no rights of publicity, and the use of the names “Hendrix” and “Jimi Hendrix” does not infringe her trademarks when describing those images and likenesses, or original artwork created by Jimi Hendrix.

In the process of doing so, the Court issued a 47-page ruling, finding that the 2008 amendments to the Washington Publicity Rights Act were unconstitutional, specifically the portions that 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. However, by Washington interposing its own law in place of New York’s where Jimi Hendrix resided at the time of his death, Washington violated the Due Process and Full Faith and Credit clauses of the Constitution, as well as the Commerce clause.

“I am deeply gladdened that the Court has vindicated our long-held position that Washington’s Publicity Rights Act does not apply to Jimi Hendrix,” said Thomas T. Osinski, Jr., the attorney who represented Andrew Pitsicalis and his companies. Osinski continued, “It was a well thought out and thorough opinion that explained in detail how publicity rights, like so many other rights, need to be determined under the law of the state a famous person resided in at the time of their death. Washington’s Statute tried to upset that majority and common sense rule, and was struck down as a result.”

“It’s a great victory for us,” said Pitsicalis of the ruling. “We have tried to honor and keep Jimi’s spirit alive as he built a legacy for past, current and future generations to enjoy, and we are always trying to do what we feel he would want us to.”

“We talk with Leon every time there is a decision to be made regarding his brother’s legacy because it seems like he would know best about what Jimi would want. It’s unfortunate that Jimi can’t make the decisions himself, but we want to do the best we can to be accurate in carrying out what we believe his wishes to be, and at this time, Leon is the best person to decide how Jimi would want his legacy to live on.”

Pitsicalis and Leon have made several overtures to work directly with Janie Hendrix and her companies, only to be met with rejection. “There is a standing offer to Authentic Hendrix to work with us and Leon for the betterment of Jimi’s legacy for all of his family and his fans. I can only hope that one day she will see fit to stop the fighting and come together for the sake of everyone who loves Jimi,” said Pitsicalis.

Until that time, he and the other members of Rockin Artwork will continue to work hard on their own to make sure that they do the best that they can in sustaining and spreading the Hendrix legend.

“We have and will fight hard for our rights to merchandise portraying Jimi’s image,” Pitsicalis said. “This is a major victory, and I’m happy to see that the correct decision was made and we can move forward in expanding this great musician’s legacy.”

Company Information: Hendrix Licensing was formed in early 2009 with the intentions of releasing Jimi Hendrix posters, fine art and apparel with Leon Hendrix’s input. Leon is Jimi’s blood brother. To avoid any further legal issues with Janie Hendrix, owner of Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix in Seattle, Hendrix Licensing has reformed as Rockin Artwork with the same goal in mind.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Andrew Pitsicalis
Company: Rockin Artwork, LLC.
Telephone: 1-866-954-5464
Fax: 1-866-954-5464
Email: info@rockinartwork.com
Website: http://www.rockinartwork.com

Summary:
The Federal Court ruled in favor of Hendrix Licensing, now Rockin Artwork, that they can use Jimi Hendrix’s name, image and likeness on their products. In the process, the Court found portions of the Washington State Publicity Act unconstitutional. Rockin Artwork is most known for having Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s blood brother on their board of directors. The ruling comes following a suit by Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s stepsister and owner of Seattle-based Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix, who filed the lawsuit against Hendrix Licensing claiming their trade marks had been infringed.

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