The expanding craft beer giant BrewDog has announced that it has been victorious in a protracted legal battle with rock ‘n’ roll artist Elvis Presley’s estate over the name of one of its beers.
In 2015, BrewDog launched a grapefruit IPA called “Elvis Juice,” a move which compelled Presley’s estate to engage in a battle over the trademark rights associated with his name. Initially BrewDog lost the case when the UK Intellectual Property Office ruled on the likelihood of indirect confusion and that “the average consumer will assume that the goods come from the same or a related undertaking” in June last year. The brewer appealed.
Remarkably, to aid their cause, the brewer’s two owners, James Watt and Martin Dickie, both officially changed their first names to Elvis by deed poll in 2016. It is unclear to what extent this played a part in what they say is a “a victory for the right-minded.”
“Sometimes, common sense prevails,” BrewDog wrote on its blog. “Only to get there you need to be prepared to fight for it (and even change your name). Around eighteen months ago we were hit with a trademark infringement relating to the name of our grapefruit-powered IPA. Emanating from the be-suited corridors of power that now control the Estate of Elvis Presley, we were slapped with an order to change the name of our beer.” The company has merely been ordered to ensure BrewDog is part of the beer’s name.
To celebrate overturning the ruling they say that “this weekend we are getting’ all shook up.” Natch.
“Anyone who dresses up as Elvis Presley and heads to one of our UK, Barcelona, Brussels or Berlin Bars this coming weekend (Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th February) will score a free schooner of BrewDog Elvis Juice!”
Since July 2015, 415,000 litres of the “citrus-forward” grapefruit IPA has been sold with 22,000 bottles and 29,000 cans sold online. Turnover for the sale of Elvis Juice in the UK was £1.9 million in 2016. Last October the beer was awarded at the 36th Great American Beer Festival (apparently the first time that a primarily UK-based business has won an award at the GABF.) It is the third best-selling craft beer in the UK, after Punk IPA and Dead Pony Club, two other Brewdog varieties.
BrewDog, which is at the vanguard of craft beer’s move into the corporate mainstream, announced it would launch a UK-first ‘brew pub’ in October last year. And Earlier this month it was announced that the company will take over the Ape & Bird pub, which was sold by the Venetian small plates operators Polpo.