David Cassidy's family takes aim at unauthorized merchandise sales

Key Points
  • David Cassidy's family is taking legal action against sellers of bootleg T-shirts and other merchandise that has appeared in the wake of the pop star's death.
  • The merchandise includes a T-shirt with Cassidy's last words on it.
  • The family's law firm has shut down numerous sellers so far.
David Cassidy's family takes aim at unauthorized merchandise sales

The family of late pop star David Cassidy is taking legal action against sellers of bootleg T-shirts and other merchandise in the wake of his death.

"It just infuriated me people don't even wait until somebody's cold. It's like virtual grave robbing," said Cassidy's ex-wife, Sue Shifrin Cassidy. "People take it upon themselves to make a buck. They don't care how the family feels."

Shifrin Cassidy, who has a son Beau with Cassidy, told CNBC that the unauthorized merchandise sales began popping up on numerous websites in the days after the pop star's death on Nov. 21 at age 67.

She said she was aghast that the sales included a T-shirt with Cassidy's last words "So much wasted time" on them.

"To take his last words and merchandise it is unnerving to me," Shifrin Cassidy said. "Words that were said to my son and me."

"It's really bad. It was a private moment and to have people making money off of that makes me wonder what kind of people have we become,'" she said.

The family has hired a Los Angeles law firm that has been issuing cease and desist notices to unauthorized online sellers. A family spokesperson said those efforts have so far resulted in numerous sellers being shut down.

The law firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, warned that the "prominent use of Mr. Cassidy's name to sell these T-shirts infringes its common law trademark rights."

Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association, said the web has made it easier for these kind of unauthorized sales after a celebrity's death.

"The estates of celebrities often hire lawyers and other people to enforce their rights," Brochstein said. "It's not uncommon at all."

Shifrin Cassidy, whose divorce was finalized in April 2016, has been vocal on social media about how sellers are trying to capitalize on Cassidy's death.

In a Nov. 29 Twitter post, she wrote, "It is the poorest of taste to see people trying to make money off of our loved one's death."

"His true fans were irate. They are contacting these sellers and said you don't have a right to sell it," she told CNBC.

Cassidy himself waged a legal battle to get paid royalties for merchandise sold in connection with "The Partridge Family," the 1970s TV show in which starred. He sued Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2011, and an arbitrator eventually awarded him a fraction of what he had sought in the case.

In the years before he died, Cassidy, whose fan club was at one time larger than the one for the Beatles, struggled with alcoholism and serious health and financial issues.

"I want him to be remembered for the light and the love that he brought during their youth," Shifrin Cassidy said.

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