The legacy of jazz pioneer Thelonious Monk may have been tarnished by one brewery's gratuitous use of his face on its merchandise, his estate claims in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
The Monk estate, which is managed by the legendary pianist's son T.S. Monk, is suing North Coast Brewing in San Francisco federal court for trademark infringement and a series of other violations. According to a report by SFGate, they are seeking over $75,000 in damages.
In the suit, the Monk estate alleges that it granted the Fort Bragg-based brewery verbal permission to use his visage for its Brother Thelonious beer. The popular beer, which was introduced in 2005, is a Belgian-style ale that puns Monk's name by dressing him in monk's garb for the beer's packaging.
There was one caveat to this deal: For using Monk's likeness, North Coast would donate a portion of its profits from Brother Thelonious beer sales to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz -- a non-profit that promotes jazz education and performance.
The Monk estate rescinded the agreement in January 2016, when it was discovered that the brewery had used the musician's likeness on an assortment of merchandise, including T-shirts, iron-on patches and soap bars.