Despite the brewery's founders both changing their names to, yes, Elvis.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated May 13, 2019
Credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images

For some of the world’s biggest musical performers, their first name says it all: Madonna, Cher, Prince (when he wasn’t going by his symbol). Many would put Elvis Presley in that same group… including the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office. According to reports, the British government body has ruled against Scottish beer brand BrewDog, deciding that its “Elvis Juice” IPA infringes on the late singer’s estate’s trademark of the word.

BrewDog originally launched Elvis Juice back in 2015, and the grapefruit-infused IPA quickly became one of its more popular beers, with sales of nearly £2 million last year. However, that popularity also caught the attention of Authentic Brands Group, the company that manages the usage rights of Elvis’s name, who objected to two of the brewery’s trademarks, “Elvis Juice” and “BrewDog Elvis Juice,” and sued the beer brand.

In response to the suit, BrewDog’s cofounders, who have earned a reputation in the beer world for their headline-grabbing stunts, went so far as to legally change both their names to Elvis in an effort to prove that the name isn’t exclusive to Mr. Presley. “From this point forward, Elvis Juice is named after us,” cofounder James Watt said at the time.

Unfortunately, that tactic didn’t prove so successful. “We can confirm that the case was ruled in favor of the opponent, ABG EPE IP LLC, who own the ELVIS trade mark for goods which include beer,” the Intellectual Property Office told CNBC. “The hearing officer considered that there was a likelihood of (indirect) confusion between the names and that the average consumer will assume that the goods sold under the two applied for marks, came from the same (or related) undertaking as those sold under the trade mark ELVIS for beer.”

Still, in general, BrewDog probably got off pretty easy. The brewery was ordered to pay the plaintiff a mere £1,500 and rebrand the beer. Though the brewer also has the option of appealing the ruling or applying to ABG to officially license the Elvis name if the brand wishes.

BrewDog apparently has yet to comment on the outcome, however, if I had to guess, I’d say a headline-grabbing renaming competition stunt could be in the near future.