Elvis weddings are a part of the image of Las Vegas – but perhaps soon they won’t be.
Authentic Brands Group is a licensing and brand management company in New York City. You’ve likely never heard of them, but you probably are their customer. They own over 50 brands, including Reebok, Forever 21, Eddie Bauer, and Sports Illustrated.
They also own the likeness rights to a number of celebrities, including Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Shaq, and Elvis Presley.
Likeness rights are a commercialized offset of the right of publicity, a legal protection in some states that prevents unauthorized use of an individual’s name, image, or reputation. Your identity is considered an object you own, and as such, you can sell it in certain capacities to a company like ABG. In that case, the identity is registered in much the same way as a trademark, and receives similar protections.
ABG owns the rights to the likeness of Elvis as ‘The King,” in most of the ways we think of him. The sequin suit, the hair, the black leather jacket and tight jeans, those are all trademarked parts of his identity.
And ABG no longer wants those associated with impromptu, cocktail-fueled weddings. They sent cease-and-desist letters in early May to chapels all over Las Vegas offering Elvis weddings, and now the date of compliance has passed.
In the cease-and-desist letter, the company said it will halt unauthorized use of “Presley’s name, likeness, voice image, and other elements of Elvis Presley’s persona in advertisements, merchandise and otherwise.” The letter also said “Elvis,” “Elvis Presley,” “and “The King of Rock and Roll” are protected trademarks.
ABG says they don’t intend to shut down Elvis weddings for good. The C&D letters are a precursor to offering partnerships to the chapels, allowing ABG to control the way “The King’s” image is used and to share in the proceeds.
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