Elon Musk is one of the most well known entrepreneurs in the world, most notably as the co-founder and CEO of Tesla cars. Now, Musk is about to set his sights on his newest venture as he has trademarked an alcoholic drink dubbed “Teslaquila.” However, Musk is already facing opposition from Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), which presides over what can legally be considered tequila in the U.S. and Mexico.
“Teslaquila” started as an April Fools joke with Elon Musk but it didn’t take long for him to make that joke a reality.
In October, Tesla trademarked the name “Teslaquila” as a “distilled agave liquor” and “distilled blue agave liquor.” Shortly after Musk tweeted a photo of the bottle, saying it was “coming soon.” The idea might be on hold as the CRT is prepared to take on Musk in a legal battle of who gets to use the word tequila in their product.
Musk has already filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office in October to trademark the word “Teslaquila.” The CRT recently released a statement challenging the product on intellectual and geographic grounds.
“If it wants to make Teslaquila viable as a tequila it would have to associate itself with an authorized tequila producer, comply with certain standards and request authorization from Mexico’s Industrial Property Institute,” said the CRT in a statement to Reuters. “Otherwise it would be making unauthorized use of the denomination of origin for tequila.”
What legal standing does the CRT have when it comes to tequila? Turns out, a lot.
The CRT main purpose is to keep regulations and tabs on tequila producers to assure they follow strict production rules. This means the drink must be made in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit or Tamaulipas. The main concern is that the proposed name, “Teslaquila,” might confuse and trick people into thinking it’s true tequila. Technically, it wouldn’t be tequila without approval from the CRT. The organization has the right to govern the designation of tequila in both Mexico and the U.S.
If Teslaquila, which has yet to be approved by the U.S. patent office, were to go forward without approval the company could find itself in legal trouble. Both the CRT and the Mexican government could bring up legal issues hindering the company and brand. Manufacturing products in the tequila business is notoriously difficult because the main ingredient agave, is in dangerously short supply.
In his latest Tweet, Musk said “We will fight Big Tequila” which might indicate this is far from over.
Musk isn’t the first high profile name to get into the crowded tequila business. Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy and George Clooney have all gotten into the business. If Tesla goes ahead with its tequila plans without the Mexican authorities’ approval, then it may have to change it’s name to distance itself from tequila.
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