(CNN) — Some Las Vegas wedding chapels are receiving cease and desist letters asking them to stop using the image and likeness of Elvis in their operations, according to two letters obtained by CNN.
In letters obtained by two chapels and shared with CNN, an attorney for Authentic Brands Group (ABG) says the companies — Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings — are infringing on intellectual property rights related to Elvis Presley and creating “the wrong thing.” Impression that Elvis Presley Enterprises approved, endorsed, or sponsored the offending band. The infringing band is clearly trading in the intellectual property rights, images, names and likenesses of Elvis Presley without the consent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.”
In 2013, Authentic Brands Group announced that it had acquired the intellectual property associated with the rock and roll icon from Core Media Group.
“As custodians of Elvis Presley’s estate, it is our responsibility to protect his legacy,” ABG said in a statement Wednesday.
“This includes ensuring that all products, services and advertisements utilizing Elvis’ name, likeness or likeness are officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises,” the statement said.
“The property has strong relationships with official Elvis tribute artists, fan clubs and festivals, as well as a robust global network of licensed merchandise partners. There is no intention to close bands offering Elvis packages in Las Vegas. We strive to work with each of these small businesses to ensure their use of Elvis’ name, likeness and likeness is officially licensed and authorized by the estate so that they can continue in business.
The statement went on to say that ABG recognizes that “Elvis is embedded in the history of Las Vegas and we are committed to protecting and expanding his legacy for generations to come.”
Melody Willis-Williams, the President of Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings, received letters from ABG last month and has since sought legal counsel.
“We believe the Las Vegas wedding industry has helped keep Elvis relevant to a generation of people,” said Willis-Williams. “People come from all over the world for that.”
Willis-Williams said several Elvis impersonators work at her property, which also hosts weddings for Hollywood characters like Dumbledore and Snape from the Harry Potter franchise, Batman and the Grinch.
Willis-Williams said she’s been going back and forth with ABG for the past week. ABG is seeking a licensing agreement, she said.
Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, issued its five millionth marriage license on February 20, 2022, according to website weddings.vegas.
“Elvis Presley has long called Las Vegas home, and his name has become synonymous with Las Vegas weddings,” Jason Whaley, president of the Vegas Wedding Chamber, told CNN via email.
“The Vegas Wedding Chamber shares the concern that many of our chapels and livelihoods (impersonators) are being targeted, especially as many are still trying to recover financially from the hurdles we’ve all endured with COVID shutdowns. We will remain focused on this situation and look forward to a resolution that does not negatively impact the Las Vegas wedding economy or the Elvis wedding experience that so many couples travel to Las Vegas to attend.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also expressed concern about the letters.
“Our wedding industry is grappling with the pandemic and the economic devastation it is causing,” Goodman said in a statement to CNN. “These are obviously not people or companies that care about this community or its people.”
Clark County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya echoed those sentiments.
“While other entertainers fade from public consciousness, Elvis’ spirit 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 companies have built their livelihoods on sharing Elvis’ joie de vivre with couples,” Goya said in a statement to CNN.
“It will be a sad day for Las Vegas – and the world – if he actually leaves the building.”
Pictured above: An Elvis impersonator at a wedding organized by Viva Las Vegas Weddings. (Courtesy of Viva Las Vegas Weddings)