Calgary minister all shook up by trademark dispute with Elvis empire

Calgary minister all shook up by trademark dispute with Elvis empire
From CBC - January 11, 2018

A Calgary minister who is also an Elvis tribute artist spent the King's birthday Monday in the worst way possible: being questionedby lawyers representing the Presley estate about his ministry's name.

Rev. Bruce Sheasby is the minister ofYour Grace Land, a Calgary nondenominational church and associatedradio show (broadcast on AM 700 in Calgary and 96.5 FM in Olds). Thename that conjures up images of a certain legendary Memphis, Tenn. mansion where Elvis resideduntil his death in August1977.

Sheasbyis as much of an Elvis lover as he is a church minister. He told Calgary Eyeopener host David Grayin an interview Wednesdaythat appeared onThe Gong Show back in the 1970s, when he was 16.He sangJailhouse Rock for the talent contest.

When he received his first ministerial posting, in Vauxhall, Alta., Sheasbytook to singing Elvis tunes on karaoke nights. He discovered it was an excellent way to connect with the local community.

Sheasby eventually added Reverend Elvis to his legal name. A Toronto Sun reporter gave him the nickname in the 1990s. He also launched the International Elvis Gospel Festival as a fundraising event for his church.

"This is a passion for me," Sheasby said. "This is a calling. Elvis I would describe not only as an influencebut a hook. It helps me to connect with people and then to deliver a message of grace."

Trademark journey

Now hejust may have to deliver his message in a renamed church, unless he convinces the legal representativesofElvis Presley Enterprises that his church does not infringe on their trademark.

In 2015, Sheasbyapplied for a trademark for Your Grace Land; it was eventually approved by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Thetrademark was advertised after receiving preliminary approval, which led to Sheasby being contacted by Elvis Presley Enterprises. Its lawyers formally opposed the trademark on the grounds it was too close to Graceland.Sheasby insists that just is not true.

"I have split up Graceland into twowords," Sheasbysaid, "but most importantly, putting the 'your' before 'Grace Land'is what makes it distinct."

And even if it's reminiscent of the Memphis mansion, Sheasby says that should not disqualifyhim from naming his church and radio showwhat he likes.

'Elvis himself had a deep love of God'


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