BrewDog Wins Right to Call Beer ‘Elvis Juice’ on Appeal
The estate of Elvis Presley had blocked the Scottish brewer from using the name on its popular IPA.
Elvis is back in the building. At least, the BrewDog building at least. After a somewhat bizarre legal battle that saw the owners of the massive Scottish brewery change both their names to “Elvis” in a tongue-in-cheek attempt to avoid litigation—a move that, by the way, didn’t work at first—BrewDog has successfully won an appeal against Elvis Presley’s estate and will be allowed to once again call their grapefruit-enhanced IPA “Elvis Juice”—under one important condition.
A quick recap: Jumping on the grapefruit IPA trend, the Scotland-based, but internationally-scoped craft brewery BrewDog released its own take on the style back in 2015, choosing to call it Elvis Juice IPA. Not long after, the estate of Elvis Presley was threatening legal action, claiming that the name “Elvis” was their domain, which led the two co-founder of BrewDog to change their names to Elvis to show that anyone could have the moniker. (Simply pointing to a photo of Elvis Costello might have been easier, but so be it.) Despite those efforts, last July, the U.K. Intellectual Property Office ruled that, indeed, the most famous Elvis was “the King,” and that Elvis Juice would have to be renamed.
However, this week it was announced that, on appeal, the chances that people might confuse a person with a beer aren’t as great as they seem. “On balance I do not think that the hearing officer was entitled to take judicial notice that beer consumers who see the word Elvis will always think of Elvis Presley,” Phillip Johnson, who conducted the hearing, said according to The Drinks Business. “It is well beyond day-to-day knowledge and is based on supposition. Such a finding therefore would require evidence.” Exactly! Talk to some millennials and see if they know who Elvis is! He then added, “The two marks are too different for there to be direct confusion. Even with imperfect recollection the average consumer will not mistake Brewdog Elvis Juice for Elvis.”
However, Johnson did make one important distinction. “Elvis Juice” has to have the brewery’s name in front of it, aka “BrewDog Elvis Juice.” He then really dug into some semantics. “In general, consumers are more likely to remember the first word of a mark, particularly where it is invented or unusual, and so in any comparison between the two marks the average consumer would be aware of the difference,” he stated. “Put simply, the common element of Elvis is not enough on its own to make consumers think there is a link between the mark Elvis and Brewdog Elvis Juice.” Thankfully, Elvis Presley never sang a song titled, “You Ain’t Nothing but a BrewDog,” otherwise, things could have gotten really messy.