BrewDog Beats Back Trademark Action From The Elvis Presley Estate

from the the-juice-is-loose dept

In the middle of summer last year, we discussed a somewhat strange trademark fight between BrewDog, a Scottish Brewery that has been featured in our pages for less than stellar reasons, and the Elvis Presley Estate. At issue was BrewDog’s attempt to trademark the name of one of its beers, a grapefruit IPA called “Elvis Juice.” With no other explanation beyond essentially claiming that any use of Elvis everywhere will only be associated in the public’s mind as being affiliated by the 1950s rock legend, the Estate opposed the trademark application. Initially, the UK Intellectual Property Office sided with the Estate, despite the owners of BrewDog both pointing out that they were simply using a common first name and that they were actually taking the legal course of changing their first names to Elvis to prove their point. Not to mention that the trade dress for the beer has absolutely nothing to do with Elvis Presley. We wondered, and hoped, at the time if BrewDog would appeal the decision.

Well, it did, and it has won, which means Elvis Juice is free to exist and the order that BrewDog pay the Elvis Estate costs for its opposition be vacated.

Now, after a three-year battle the firm has overturned a ruling banning them from using the name and and order to pay Presley’s estate £1,500 in costs has been scrapped. The ruling means BrewDog will no longer have to change the name or apply to the Elvis estate for official permission to use it.

It’s the right end-state for all of this, but you have to wonder why it took an appeal process to get here. Again, you can see the trade dress for the beer in our original post and you will see that there is absolutely nothing in the way of a call-back to Elvis Presley. In other words, the opposition from the Estate rested solely on the claim that virtually any use of a common first name would be associated with the long-dead Elvis Presley. Arguably, Presley may not even by the first singer to leap to mind in the European market, where Elvis Costello is still, you know, alive. This whole thing smacked of pure audacity on the part of the Estate.

But let’s remember that BrewDog has had to deal with this mess for the better part of a year. To those that would claim that trademark bullying isn’t all that big a problem, tell that to the two Elvises (Elvisi?) that own BrewDog.

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Companies: brewdog, elvis presley estate

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Comments on “BrewDog Beats Back Trademark Action From The Elvis Presley Estate”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Are there no non-alcohol-related trademark disputes, then?

Yes, there are plenty. For example, just in the last couple of weeks:

Weird how you don’t remember those since some anonymous idiot was also in those threads trying and failing to attack the site.

Was your thinly veiled attack on alcohol use here because you were too blackout drunk to remember posting in them? That could explain a lot of your behaviour.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah. The fact is, the default association with the name "Elvis" in the minds of many people (I’d suspect the overwhelming majority) is in fact Elvis Presley; it hasn’t been a common first name for a long time, AFAIK.

In fact, my first reaction when I first learned that Elvis Costello existed – years and years ago now – was to assume that he was a minor artist who’d changed his name to Elvis in order to get the public to associate him with Elvis Presley (even if only for purposes of contrast).

Even in this case, with the different trade dress and the fact that these people are apparently changing their names to Elvis to support the usage, the question of why "Elvis" is the name they chose remains – and while it’s certainly possible that the reason they chose it was unrelated to Elvis Presley, the idea that it was related certainly doesn’t look like an unjustifiable assumption to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Estates should be abolished or very short lived.

Once an artist or creator of any kind has died their works should 100% go to public domain even when that IP has been sold to a corporate entity. Estates should only live long enough to get through probate, legal challenges, and disburse all assets to heirs and associates. Once complete… it should be destroyed!

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