BrewDog's 'Elvis Juice' Now An Approved Trademark In The UK, But Not the EU

from the ain't-nothin'-but-a-brewdog dept

You will hopefully recall that a few years back we discussed a trademark dispute between BrewDog, a UK-based brewery, and the Elvis Presley estate. At issue was BrewDog’s grapefruit IPA dubbed “Elvis Juice” and the trademark application BrewDog had filed for it. Somehow, on first review, the UK IPO managed to side with the Presley estate, despite the fact that Elvis is a common first name, that the trade dress for the brew had nothing to do with Elvis Presley, and that this was all occurring in a country where Elvis Presley might not even be the most famous singing Elvis on the market. Fortunately, BrewDog appealed and won, so Elvis Juice is a registered trademark in the UK.

But not the European Union. Side note: did you guys know that the UK stupidly got out of the EU? Crazy! Anywho, BrewDog also had an application to trademark Elvis Juice in the EU. The Elvis Presley estate also opposed that trademark. And, this time, the Presley estate won.

The craft brewing company, based in Ellon, had won the right to register the brand as a trademark in the UK in 2018. However, they have been denied exclusive rights to the name in Europe – potentially threatening sales on the continent.

Unlike its UK counterpart, the EU bought the Presley estate’s line that throughout Europe people buying an IPA called Elvis Juice would somehow think it was associated with a crooner from the American 50s as opposed to, say, Elvis Costello. Or the two Elvises that legally changed their name to Elvis that also own BrewDog. How that makes any sense, or how anyone is making this connection in, for instance, Spain is beyond me.

In the case documents, the EU Intellectual Property Office ruled: “It is clear that the applicant’s submission based on the peaceful coexistence of the marks cannot succeed. No evidence actually demonstrating such peaceful existence on the pertinent market has been shown. In short…there exists a likelihood of confusion… A likelihood of confusion for only part of the relevant public of the European Union is sufficient to reject the contested application.”

I mean, if this were two years ago, when the UK IPO decision came down, the UK would have been part of that pertinent market. And that should have been all that was needed to side with BrewDog. This, somehow, went the other way.

And, as a result, it’s an open question as to whether BrewDog will keep its Elvis Juice branding as a whole, given the EU decision. Meanwhile, the EU IPO also ordered the brewery to pay the Presley estate costs.

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Companies: brewdog

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Comments on “BrewDog's 'Elvis Juice' Now An Approved Trademark In The UK, But Not the EU”

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PaulT (profile) says:

"How that makes any sense, or how anyone is making this connection in, for instance, Spain is beyond me."

While I disagree that he should have the sole right to the name anywhere, Mr. Presley was certainly a famous name internationally and would be the most likely person associated with it at first glance.

The trademark battle is dumb, since even if that connection is made it’s unlikely that they’d think that his estate were in the brewing business, especially not with the now recognisable Brewdog name on the bottle, but many would make the association between the forename and the surname at first glance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does Elvis Presley currently make beer and market it under his name? No? OK then you can have your trademark.

Unless we can think of other reasons to refuse trademarks, or trade dress registrations, etc., because why is much of this stuff allowed to be registered in the first place? But whatever the framework is, it should be applied fairly.

Another angle: Why does the "estate" of Elvis (or anyone) have any business forcing their crap on others "on behalf" of long dead people? This, too, has some garbage framework and law involved.

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