Mexican Opposition To ‘Teslaquila’ Creates Headache for Elon Musk

November 14, 2018, 12:19 PM UTC

Last month Tesla filed for a trademark on “Teslaquila,” a “distilled agave liquor” that mercurial CEO Elon Musk had joked about back in April. “Teslaquila coming soon,” Musk tweeted on October 12th, along with a picture of a label bearing the phrase, “100% puro de agave.”

The thing is, you can’t just go ahead and produce tequila — the spirit is only supposed to be made in Mexico, and its production and name are tightly-controlled by that country’s Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT). So, naturally, the council is not pleased about Tesla’s new, pun-laden product.

According to a Wednesday Reuters report, the CRT has issued a statement arguing that “Teslaquila” is meant to make people think of tequila, and “tequila” is a protected word that can’t be deployed by just anyone.

“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,” the council grumbled. “Otherwise it would be making unauthorized use of the denomination of origin for tequila.”

Denomination of origin is a serious business for many countries, the U.S. included (Tennessee whiskey can only come from that state,) and it is most frequently applied in cases of booze and cheese. This protectiveness is particularly acute in Europe, whose trade deals mandate that feta cheese can only come from Greece, champagne can only come from that region of France, and so on.

If Tesla goes ahead with its tequila plans without the Mexican authorities’ approval — and it has applied for the Teslaquila trademark in that country too — then it may find itself being sued by the Mexican government.