Elvis Has Left the Building
It looks like Elvis might be leaving Las Vegas. This could be a big blow to the Las Vegas Wedding Industry of $2B a year.
The company that is responsible for managing the Elvis Presley image and likeness is cracking down on Las Vegas chapels that book Elvis-themed weddings and otherwise embrace his persona. Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which licenses Elvis Presley-related merchandise, has issued a cease-and-desist letter dated May 19 to several Las Vegas chapels.
The licensing company, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), controls the name and image of “The King” is ordering Sin City chapel operators to stop using Elvis in themed ceremonies. ABG sent cease-and-desist letters in early May to multiple chapels, which are expected to be compliant by now.
ABG intends to stop the unauthorized use of (quoting from the company’s document) “Elvis Presley’s name, likeness, voice image, and other elements of Elvis Presley’s persona in advertisements, merchandise, and otherwise.” ABG specifies “Elvis, “Elvis Presley,” “and “The King of Rock and Roll” as its protected trademarks.
Issued and signed by an ABG attorney, the letter states that if an “infringing chapel” does not comply with the terms of the document within a week, the company’s counsel would advise seeking legal action. That date would have been May 27.
The timing of ABG’s action falls just before the heavily hyped Baz Luhrmann biopic “Elvis” is released June 24. That film is certain to regenerate interest in Presley’s career, especially the opportunity to be married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator.
The result of the ABG warning has sent a shockwave through the Las Vegas chapel community. These businesses depend largely on ceremonies performed by Elvis impressionists. All ilk of tourists, from couples visiting from tiny towns in Montana to Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian, call on the King to perform ceremonies. This is the case whether or not the ceremonies are legally binding.
There has been a sentiment echoed by many Elvis tribute artists and chapel owners who say these weddings King’s image is in the public domain. Kent Ripley, whose business is called Elvis Weddings, said he has never run into this issue in 25 years of performing as Elvis.
Elvis-themed ceremonies are clearly a significant piece of the state’s tourism pie. The wedding industry produces $2 billion a year. Clark County has redoubled its efforts to re-establish Las Vegas as the “Wedding Capital of the World,” issuing its five-millionth wedding license in February.
Staying in voice, Pete Vallee, aka “Big Elvis,” sings at the Piano Bar at Harrah’s at 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Vallee also hosts a “Blue Hawaii”-
themed gig at The Golden Tiki from 4 to 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month.