Known as The King of Rock-n-Roll, Elvis Presley could easily be crowned the King of Litigation as well.
Most cases — dealing with copyright and trademark issues — occurred after his death in 1977.
A “bootleg” music case involving a devoted fan creating recordings from concerts and T.V. appearances made its way to the Supreme Court in 1985. The defendant Dowling didn’t deny copyright violations, but argued that the goods sold across state lines were not “stolen, converted or taken by fraud”. The highest Court agreed (Dowling v. U.S.; 473 U.S. 207).
The owner of “The Velvet Elvis” bar in Houston did not fare as well. Bar menu and decor featured numerous references to Elvis, including a frozen drink called “Love Me Blenders”. But it was probably the long advertising campaign using Presley images that made the Court decide in favor of Elvis Presley Enterprises (Elvis Presley Enterprises v. Capece; 141 F. 3d 188).
And while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, the “Big El” show ran into legal troubles in New Jersey. Modeled after later Elvis performances and with a band also named “TCB”, the court ruled that the “Big El” show not provide musical services that may appear to be sponsored by the plaintiff (Estate of Presley v. Russen; 513 F. Supp. 1339).
Could we really be talking Elvis without a little bit on matters of love….
Claiming to be Elvis’ love child, Deborah Elvis made claims on the singer’s estate. This trusts and estates matter was decided on the court’s interpretation of the term “lawful issue” (Presley v. Hanks; 782 S.W. 2d 482).
Elvis’ generosity led to the parents of his young fiance suing for mortgage payments allegedly promised in a 1980s contract case (Alden v. Presley; 637 S. W. 2d 862).
Elvis often left the building, but apparently has never left the courtroom !!