Couples in Las Vegas may need to take their burning love elsewhere as the company representing Elvis Presley‘s estate seeks to require local Elvis impersonators performing weddings to obtain a license.
“As the guardians of the Elvis Presley estate, it is our responsibility to safeguard his legacy,” said a spokesperson for Authentic Brands Group in a statement to Billboard. ‘This includes ensuring that all products, services and advertisements utilizing Elvis’ name, image or likeness are officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises.”
This development comes weeks after Authentic Brands Group (ABG) sent a cease and desist letter to a number of Las Vegas chapels where Presley impersonators officiate weddings, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Billboard has not reviewed the letter sent by ABG, but the group has a number of legal tools it is likely using to threaten the chapels.
ABG owns Presley’s right of publicity – the legal power to commercially exploit someone’s name, image, likeness and other personal traits, like the sound of their voice. The group also owns a number of federally-registered trademarks linked to the iconic singer, which give it the right to stop others from using terms like “Elvis Presley” and “The King of Rock ‘N Roll” to sell a wide range of goods and services.
Notably, Nevada’s law on the right of publicity expressly allows for the legal use of a celebrity’s likeness by “impersonators in live performances” – likely a nod to the long-standing and beloved tradition of Elvis look-alikes in Las Vegas. Whether performing a marriage ceremony counts as such a “performance” is unclear.
In its statement to Billboard, ABG says that this move is less about using those tools to elbow out the fleet of Elvis impersonators who perform weddings in Las Vegas, and more about closely partnering with them.
“The estate has strong relationships with official Elvis tribute artists, fan clubs and festivals, as well as a robust global network of licensed merchandise partners,” ABG’s statement continues. “There is no intention to shut down chapels that offer Elvis packages in Las Vegas. We are seeking to partner with each of these small businesses to ensure that their use of Elvis’ name, image and likeness are officially licensed and authorized by the estate, so they can continue their operations.”
This development comes weeks ahead of the June 24 release of the hotly anticipated Elvis biopic, Elvis. The Baz Luhrmann film stars Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as his famed manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Vegas weddings officiated by Elvis impersonators also got a profile bump when Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker had a “practice wedding” in Las Vegas on April 4. (This ceremony was not legally binding, with the couple legally marrying during a May 15 ceremony in Santa Barbara, Calif.)
“Elvis is embedded into the fabric of Las Vegas history,” ABG’s statement concludes, “and we are committed to protecting and expanding his legacy for generations to come.”