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BrewDog loses Elvis Juice trademark battle

By Nicholas Robinson+

13-Jul-2017
Last updated on 14-Jul-2017 at 09:02 GMT2017-07-14T09:02:27Z

Ruled: BrewDog not allowed to use Elvis in their branding
Ruled: BrewDog not allowed to use Elvis in their branding

Elvis Presley’s estate has won a trademark battle with Scottish craft brewer and pub operator BrewDog over the rights to use the rock legend’s name in their Elvis Juice beer.

Last year, BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie changed their names to Elvis after Presley’s estate took umbrage about the use of Elvis’s name on their grapefruit and blood orange IPA.

The self-proclaimed punk operation drew fire from the estate, which launched plans to sue the company in October 2016.

Watt and Dickie claimed the move was “baseless litigation” and that they had named the brew as a celebration of great beer and not as a means to massage the egos of late celebrities.

Stepped into the argument

However, the brewer, which ironically owns the trademark to the word ‘punk’, is no longer allowed to use the name Elvis Juice after the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) stepped into the argument.

According to the IPO, Elvis Presley is an iconic figure and “the most famous of Elvises”, which would likely lead to consumer confusion over the use of the name on a beer.

BrewDog was ordered to pay Elvis Presley Enterprises, the manager of the late singer’s estate, £1,500 and has been told to rebrand the beer.

However, the brewer will be able to appeal the decision and apply to Elvis’s estate to use the name.

The IPO’s trademark hearing officer Oliver Morris said: “Notwithstanding that Mr Presley died nearly 40 years ago, he was/is such an iconic figure that I would be very surprised if many people had not heard of him.

“Whilst I accept that BrewDog may have something of a reputation, there would still be a significant number of average consumers who will not have heard of it and, consequently, the claimed lessening of confusion would not be applicable to them.”

Legal proceedings

At the time Elvis Presley Enterprises launched the legal proceedings, Watt and Dickie said: “Here at BrewDog, we don’t take too kindly to petty pen pushers attempting to make a fast buck by discrediting our good name under the guise of copyright infringement.

“Unfortunately it appears that the late Mr Presley’s estate has got itself all shook up over a little beer called Elvis Juice.”

Meanwhile, Sussex-based brewery Burning Sky has pulled its beers from all BrewDog sites after head brewer Mark Tranter took issue with the way BrewDog is behaving.

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