When it first appeared, Tesla’s tequila was an April Fools joke on Elon Musk. It’s also called “Teslaquila.” But that name, in the end, won’t make it to the final product – which is real.
Look, “Teslaquila” isn’t possible because of the tequila industry regulations. The word “tequila” is an original designation; that means the right to use this word belongs only to tequila agribusiness. It also means that no one can register the name as their property.
The problem with branding is that “Teslaquila,’’ too close to the word tequila, according to the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), the entity responsible for regulating and authorizing all processes related to the manufacture, consumption, and trade of tequila. Martín Muñoz, head of the certification body at CRT, said “Teslaquila’’ could cause confusion or misunderstanding about the origin of the product, and Mexico’s industrial property law denies the trademark. Basically, because “Teslaquila” evokes the word tequila, it cannot be registered as a trademark.
First, in May 2018, a legal representative attempted to register the Teslaquila trademark in Mexico, the only country where tequila originated. Next, in February 2019, CRT filed an objection to the mark; in March 2019, the Mexican Industrial Property Institute said “Teslaquila” could not be registered because the name too close to being called the original tequila. In a July 16 response, Musk’s team challenged this, saying “Teslaquila” is a natural variant of Tesla and the suffix “-quila.” Moving January 2020, the final verdict passed: the Mexican Industrial Property Institute said it could not register the mark.
Even though the CRT rejects “Teslaquila,” that’s not the end of the line – just the end of the name. Finally, the product was called “Tesla Tequila.” When asked about how this affects the company’s plans and timelines, Javier Verdura, director of product design at Tesla, declined to comment.
Registration is the first step a company must take to build a brand. The same process follows by 164 companies selling more than 1,800 brands of tequila.
Last February, according to Muñoz, Tesla left “Teslaquila” and moved, instead, with Tesla Tequila. Tesla Tequila is registered both in Mexico and the United States. In Mexico, it is associated with Destiladora del Valle de Tequila, in Tequila, Jalisco, one of several states where tequila can be made.
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Then there was one hurdle that went unmanageable: the Tesla Tequila glass bottle shaped like lightning came in. The design inspires by the Tesla GPS map icon showing the location of the charging station. “Several providers told us the glass bottles were impossible to mass-produce,” said Verdura.
Verdura also said that making tequila public today has nothing to do with external factors like the pandemic (and the fact that tequila consumption is going up this year) but with the unique bottle design.
On November 5, bottle-shaped lightning launched for $250; it was sold out the same day. “There was no doubt this was going to be the result,” said Verdura. The product is manufactured by Nosotros Tequila, a brand based in California. Tesla decided to use it because it “tasted several tequilas, and their tequila was the best one.”
And in case you’re wondering, CRTs are pretty fun too. “Today, the tequila industry has someone as important as Elon Musk representing it,” said Muñoz. “This is, without a doubt, a benefit to all the tequila producers because he is giving his image as an important businessman, and he is showing he wants to comply with the rules of this industry. We welcome Elon Musk and the Tesla tequila brand.”