Authentic Brands Group Purchases the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Intellectual Property - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Authentic Brands Group Purchases the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Intellectual Property

Authentic Brands Group Purchases the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Intellectual Property

Authentic Brands Group announced that it has purchased the intellectual property rights of Elvis Presley from Core Media Group.  This acquisition will give Authentic Brands control over Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., which manages the worldwide licensing and merchandising business of Presley’s iconic image.  This licensing business has proved highly profitable; Presley’s assets were calculated to be worth only $3 million when he passed away in 1977, but the King’s total revenue in 2011 and 2012 was approximately $55 million, meriting him third place on the 2012 Forbes list of top-earning deceased celebrities.  According to the CEO of the Elvis Presley Enterprises, $32 million out of this total revenue was from the licensing business. 

Authentic Brands’ rights to Presley’s intellectual property include the rights to Presley’s image, name and likeness, in addition to an enormous collection of the late artist’s archived music, photos, movies, television and performance specials. The acquisition price has not been disclosed. 

In addition to Presley’s intellectual property, Authentic Brands will also gain operational controls of Graceland from this acquisition.  Graceland is Presley’s former home in Memphis, Tennessee, and attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year and generates millions in revenue.  The company will partner up with Joel Weinshanker, the founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, and the Presley family to operate this popular tourist spot. These rights to the management of Graceland operations is not to be confused with ownership of the home; Presley’s daughter and only heir, Lisa Marie Presley, will maintain ownership of the home along with its original artifacts while Authentic Brands and Weinshanker will oversee operation aspects such as tours of the property.  It is likely that both Graceland and Memphis will be positively affected by this acquisition; through growing Presley’s brand, Authentic Brands will make efforts to increase both Graceland and the city’s fame, given that “Memphis is synonymous with Graceland” and “a higher-profile Elvis means a higher-profile Graceland and a higher-profile Memphis.”

This acquisition occurs in light of the 60th anniversary of Presley’s first single, “That’s All Right,” which was released in 1954.  Authentic Brands is a New York based intellectual property corporation and already possesses the rights to Marilyn Monroe and Mohammad Ali in its brand portfolio.  The company’s president Nick Woodhouse acknowledged that the company would follow a similar strategy in further building the iconic late singer’s brand that it did with Marilyn Monroe, who was seventh on the aforementioned Forbes list for bringing in $10 million in licensing revenue.  Monroe’s total earnings in 2012 actually amounted $27 million after Authentic Brands took over her intellectual property and launched a branding makeover in 2010.  What differentiates Authentic Brand’s rebooting of Presley’s image from that of Monroe’s is the use of music, which the company finds “attractive” because Presley’s music can be played along with products in licensing deals and will therefore be more profitable.  Presley is already an internationally known personality, and given this possibility of diversification, only time will tell how much more of a presence he will have in the consumer world after Authentic Brand takes full control.

Jennifer Oh

Jennifer Oh is a second-year student at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal. She studied Psychology at Barnard College at Columbia University.