Vegas Elvis saga caused by ‘confusion,’ company says

Elvis impersonator Harry Shahoian poses with, from left, Steve Hill, CEO and president of the L ...

Realizing, “Elvis is embedded into the fabric of Las Vegas,” Authentic Brands Group wants to work with chapels in this city that use the King as part of their businesses.

In an emailed statement Thursday, an ABG rep said:

“ABG is proud to be the guardian of the Elvis Presley legacy and is committed to protecting it for generations to come. We are sorry that recent communication with a small number of Las Vegas based chapels caused confusion and concern. That was never our intention. We are working with the chapels to ensure that the usage of Elvis’ name, image and likeness are in keeping with his legacy.

“Elvis is embedded into the fabric of Las Vegas, and we embrace and celebrate Elvis fandom. From tribute artists and impersonators to chapels and fan clubs, each and every one of these groups help to keep Elvis relevant for new generations of fans.”

The statement is the first comment the company has made since sending cease-and-desist warnings two weeks ago to several chapels that have been using the Elvis name and marketing themed wedding ceremonies. The latest chapel contacted by ABG is Graceland Wedding Chapel, which has been performing Elvis-styled ceremonies in downtown Las Vegas since 1977.

Owners report that ABG has offered a licensing partnership with Vegas chapels, and has no intention of entering into a court battle with the businesses.

It’s unclear where ABG sees a miscommunication in this saga.

Quoting from the letter dated May 19, from an ABG attorney to at least a half-dozen Vegas chapel operators: “Unless we receive adequate written assurances by May 27 2022, that you will hereafter comply with the terms of this letter, we will recommend that our client take all legal action necessary to protect the Elvis IP (Intellectual Property) Rights, including filing a Complaint in the United States District Court to seek all injunctive an monetary relief against you, and we are confident we will prevail.”

But by Wednesday, ABG reps were contacting chapels to make licensing deals. As Melody Wills-Williams, president of Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings, said, “They have done a complete 180.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.