I’m sorry. Before I report the details of the Elvis Presley estate’s legal action against Beretta for copyright infringement I just gotta say: that’s one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen. Dueling rhinestone-clad Elvis imitators competing for attention at Beretta’s SHOT Show stand using the same signature moves? LMAO. Anyway, tmz.com reports that “Elvis Presley Enterprises filed the suit against Beretta, claiming the gunco hijacked Elvis’s face and good name to hawk its new model 692 shotgun.” Not so new, the 692, but it’s certainly true that the guardians of The King’s legacy are not shy about protecting his heirs’ inheritance. And have done so successfully in the past. (Just takin’ care of business, baby.) Expect a settlement soon.

19 Responses to Elvis Presley Estate Sues Beretta for Copyright Infringment

  1. At $5K per rifle, you’d think they could have come up with a more compelling draw. Elvis is great, sure, but it’s been done.

  2. They should sue TTAG for the awesome pic of DJ and the Elvis impersonators. If that aint Elvis’ likeness I don’t know what is.

    • Interestingly enough, photographs of Elvis sightings are pieces of original work and can be copyrighted. So if TTAG is really, really worried, then they should apply for a copyright of the video. Although, I don’t know if that’s someone else’s work or if Robert & Co. took the video and now are covered under fair use.

      I just think it’s funny that the U.S. Copyright office actually addresses this question of copyrighting pictures of Elvis sightings in their FAQ section. No mention of sightings of Santa, Big Foot or Miley Cyrus’ dignity, though. So I take it the U.S. Government’s official position is that those are all so commonly regarded as fictional that there’s no “there” there to protect.

      • And considering the tens of thousands if not millions of crappy Elvis impersonators all over the world (ever see a Korean version?), who never pay the Elvis estate a penny in royalties, I suspect the only reason they are complaining about Beretta is that they can smell money in the lawsuit.

  3. It was VEGAS. Of course someone had to invoke Elvis.

    And by the way, they are now officially referred to as Elvis Tribute Artists, not impersonators. And if I’m not mistaken, the plural of Elvis is “Elvi”, not Elvises.

  4. I think it was the .38special S&W that Richard Nixon gave him when he made him a DEA agent .Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

    • 1) Nixon gave Elvis an honorary badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, not the DEA (the DEA wasn’t founded until three years later).

      2) The gun was a Colt, not a S&W. Also, it was a .45, not a .38 Special.

      3) Elvis gave the gun to Nixon, not the other way around.

      But, hey, you’re right about the powder. It should be kept dry.

  5. WGAF.

    I will say that I wish I had payed a little more attention to The King when he was alive, I missed a real train wreck/freak show. Sadly, from most accounts, Elvis was a nice guy.

  6. Someone in marketing or with their ad agency neglected a simple process called trade clearance. That makes sure you have the rights to images, likenesses, etc., etc. In this case, it would have meant negotiating a deal with the estate before they did the marketing campaign.

    It’s one of those ounce of prevention things. I’m sure one of the intellectual property attorneys around here can explain it much better than I can.

    Of course, they may have just decided to roll the dice, and ask forgiveness if they got caught.

    • That’s actually a pretty interesting area of law. A likeness isn’t a patent, which would be good for 20 years; or more, depending on particular circumstances. It’s not exactly a copyright, either, which would be good for the life of the author plus 70 years, again, depending on particular circumstances.

      That Elvis estate pursues these things pretty aggressively in part, I suppose, because that’s all they have. Elvis didn’t own his songs or movies, so the likeness thing is all there really is. That said, the estate has lost some of the cases before. So it’s not an open & shut matter. It comes down to the state it all took place in and where any lawsuits get filed. It used to be that likeness rights died with the celebrity and didn’t pass to heirs. At least, so said the California Supreme Court, which is in ground zero for these types of actions, I’d expect.

      Nowadays, some states, including California, have statutes governing ownership and use of likenesses. It was 50 years beyond death, but that may have been revised in recent years. This will probably end in a settlement of some kind, I agree.

  7. Beretta is now run by some Black and Decker guys that promote products like a sideshow at a Tool Convention.
    The Beretta name used to stand for quality and higher priced products.
    Home Depot polyester thinking has taken over.
    Maybe next year they’ll have a Michael Jackson impersonator???

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