Las Vegas wedding chapels receive cease and desist letters from Elvis

(CNN) — Some wedding chapels in Las Vegas are receiving cease-and-desist letters demanding they stop using Elvis’ image and likeness in their operations, according to two letters obtained by CNN.

In letters that two chapels received and shared with CNN, an attorney for Authentic Brands Group (ABG) says the companies – Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings – are infringing intellectual property rights related to Elvis Presley, creating “the false impression that Elvis Presley Enterprises endorsed, endorsed, or sponsored the infringing Chapel. The infringing Chapel is clearly trading the intellectual property rights, image, name and likeness of Elvis Presley without the consent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

In 2013, Authentic Brands Group announced that it had purchased the intellectual property associated with the rock-and-roll icon from Core Media Group.

“As guardians of the estate of Elvis Presley, it is our responsibility to safeguard his legacy,” ABG said in a statement Wednesday.

“This includes ensuring that all products, services and advertisements using Elvis’ name, image or likeness are officially authorized by Elvis Presley Enterprises,” the statement read.

“The estate has strong relationships with official Elvis artists, fan clubs and festivals, as well as a strong global network of approved business partners. There are no plans to close chapels that offer Elvis packages at Las Vegas.We seek to partner with each of these small businesses to ensure that their use of Elvis’s name, image and likeness is officially authorized and licensed by the estate, so that they can continue their activities.

The statement goes on to say that ABG recognizes that “Elvis is woven into the fabric of Las Vegas history, and we are committed to protecting and extending his legacy for generations to come.”

Melody Willis-Williams, president of Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings, received letters from ABG last month and has since sought legal advice.

“We believe the Las Vegas wedding industry has helped keep Elvis relevant for an entire generation of people,” Willis-Williams said. “People come from all over the world for this.”

Willis-Williams said several Elvis impersonators work at his properties, which also offer weddings performed by Hollywood figures such as Dumbledore and Snape from the Harry Potter franchise, Batman and the Grinch.

Willis-Williams said she went back and forth with ABG last week. ABG is aiming for a licensing deal, she said.

Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, issued its five millionth marriage license on Feb. 20, 2022, according to the website.

“Elvis Presley has long called Las Vegas his home and his name has become synonymous with Las Vegas weddings,” Jason Whaley, president of the Vegas Wedding Chamber, told CNN via email.

“Vegas Marriage Chamber shares a concern that many of our chapels and livelihoods (imitators) are being targeted, especially as many are still trying to recover financially from the hurdles we have all endured with the COVID closures. We will continue to focus on the situation and I look forward to a resolution that will not negatively impact the Las Vegas wedding economy or the Elvis wedding experience that so many couples travel to Las Vegas to be a part.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also raised concerns about the letters.

“Our wedding industry has struggled with the pandemic and the economic devastation it has caused,” Goodman said in a statement to CNN. “It’s obviously not people or a company making fun of this community or its people.”

Clark County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya echoed those sentiments.

“While other performers fade from public consciousness, the spirit of Elvis lives on in Las Vegas. Couples come from all over the world to add a bit of Elvis charm to their lives. Elvis Weddings have been around for decades and a number of the businesses have built their livelihoods around sharing Elvis’ joie de vivre with couples,” Goya said in a statement to CNN.

“It will be a sad day for Las Vegas – and for the world – if he does leave the building.”

Top image: An Elvis impersonator at a wedding hosted by Viva Las Vegas Weddings. (Courtesy of Viva Las Vegas Weddings)

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