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California brewery must face suit by son of late jazz star

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Here’s something the family of the late jazz composer Thelonious Monk can toast.

A federal judge rejected a California brewery’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit by the son of late jazz performer Thelonious Monk, who claimed the beer company exploited his father’s name and image without permission to sell beer-themed merchandise, Reuters reported Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam on Wednesday found it “more than plausible” that Thelonious Monk Jr. had rights to the commercial value of his father’s persona, thus preventing North Coast Brewing Co. and others from “unfairly exploiting it for commercial purposes,” the wire service reported.

According to a piece on the food-new site San Francisco Eater, the family had initially granted use of the jazz performer’s face on its bottles with the stipulation that the beer company would donate profits to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz — which the company’s website stated it does. Permission to use his face on T-shirts and other items was not OK, according to the news outlet.

Without ruling on the merits, the Oakland, California, judge also said people might be confused into thinking Mr. Monk Jr., who oversees his father’s estate, had authorized North Coast to sell beer paraphernalia in his father’s image, Reuters reported.