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British craft brewer BrewDog is likely to lose one of its premium products, with the company losing a lengthy legal battle with the estate of Elvis Presley over the name of one of its beers.
Craft beer is big business in the U.S., with around a fifth of the $107 billion brewing market being made up of independents in 2016. And quirky British company BrewDog has taken a sip of that market, with founders James Watt and Martin Dickie set to launch a brewery in Columbus, Ohio.
The founders also took inspiration from the U.S. by naming one of their beers "Elvis Juice" in 2016. But with Elvis Presley's estate being fiercely protective of anything associated with The King, it wasn't long before lawyers wrote to Watt and Dickie to demand they change its name. The two founders responded by changing their own names to Elvis by deed poll to try to show that the name Elvis is not exclusive to the star.
But now "Elvis Juice" looks likely to disappear, as BrewDog has lost the battle against Presley's estate. Presley's name and the official events associated with him such as "The Wonder of You" 2017 European live orchestra tour are managed by Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which also manages the usage rights of the Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe names among others.
The U.K.'s Intellectual Property Office has ruled in favor of Elvis trademark owner ABG EPE, and a spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNBC: "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 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."
Globally, licensed properties are worth $251.7 billion, according to 2016 figures from industry body LIMA, and the sector includes everything from t-shirts to live events. Disney is the world's most successful seller of licensed merchandise, with sales of more than $56 billion in 2016.
BrewDog and ABG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that BrewDog will launch a brewery in Columbus.