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When Jerry Garcia wrote the music to “When Push Comes to Shove” he probably didn’t have his loved ones in mind. But five years after the Grateful Dead singer died in a drug rehab clinic, family and friends are still fighting in Marin County, Calif., Superior Court over the rights to his intellectual property. While Garcia’s will gave most of his personal property — including his comic book collection, to his former wife — the rest of his assets were to be split among his wife, brother and daughters, including money from future royalties. While neither side contests the will, figuring out how to distribute the property has been a problem. Now it may be up to a former First District Court of Appeal justice to work out some sort of solution to the family feud. Last week, Garcia’s four daughters and his brother went back to court to demand that Garcia’s estate be closed and that their portion of the singer’s fortune, which includes intellectual property rights and possibly as much as $3 million in cash, be dispersed. In a separate action that same day, a Marin County guitar maker also sought to retrieve the custom-made instruments he built for Garcia — guitars that were bequeathed to him in the singer’s will. While the fight over the guitars isn’t expected to hold up the estate, what is causing delays, says San Francisco attorney David Phillips, who represents Garcia’s brother and daughters, is the reluctance of Garcia’s widow to relinquish control of the estate. Phillips, who has a long history of representing members of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene, including Carlos Santana and Bill Graham, says Garcia’s widow, Deborah Koons Garcia, is trying to delay the estate for her own benefit. “It’s time for control of the intellectual property to be passed to the people who are entitled to it,” the Phillips & Erlewine partner says. “Deborah would like to control the IP rights forever.” But Max Gutierrez Jr., a Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison partner who’s representing Koons Garcia, said before the estate can be closed, a limited-liability company must be established to manage the assets and distribute the royalties. “We would love to distribute the estate, but there are certain things that have to be resolved,” Gutierrez said. He said the main sticking point has been the inability of the parties to agree on who should manage the LLC. So far both sides have vetoed the other’s nominations. “It’s insanity that they can’t agree on somebody,” the Brobeck partner said. He added that the beneficiaries are going to have to agree on an LLC or some sort of outside entity to distribute the property or face having the rights to Garcia’s music, art and likeness fragmented. In an effort to reach an agreement, both sides have been ordered to see Justice Donald King, a family law specialist who’s now a mediator with the American Arbitration Association. Both sides have until June 11 to reach a settlement. Gutierrez says he’s hopeful King can help them reach a compromise and get the matter truckin’ on. Phillips though isn’t so optimistic. “Just what is going to be mediated remains to be seen,” he said. Phillips adds that as long as the battle continues, more of Garcia’s money will end up in Brobeck’s bank account. As for the five disputed guitars, guitar maker Doug Irwin is suing to retrieve them from Novato, Calif.-based Grateful Dead Productions. The guitars, which are worth possibly tens of thousands of dollars, were left to Irwin in Garcia’s will, but other members of the Grateful Dead argue they are the band’s property. As Jerry would have said, “Oh well, a touch of gray.”

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