Musk originally wanted to name his iconic Tesla Tequila, Teslaquila. But when Mexico weighed in, they said ‘no’.
What was originally an April Fool’s joke on Musk’s Twitter account as ‘Teslaquila’ — ended up becoming a very, very real bottle of tequila. But unfortunately, ‘Teslaquila’ did not make it to the final stages of production.
A factor in tequila industry regulations is that the word “tequila” is of designated origin. Meaning, the rights of using this word belong solely to the tequila agribusiness. This also means that no one can register the word as their property. And because ‘Teslaquila’ evokes the word tequila, it cannot be used as a brand.
According to the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), “Teslaquila” is too similar to the word tequila. CRT is the entity responsible for regulating and authorizing all processes related to the manufacturing, consumption, and the trade of tequila. The head of the certification body at the CRT, Martin Munoz, said “Teslaquila” could cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the origin of the product, and as a result the Mexican industrial property law denied the trademark.
Mexico being the only country tequila is produced, a legal representative made an attempt in May 2018 to register the brand “Teslaquila”. The CRT then filed an objection to the brand in February 2019. A month later in March, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property said, “Teslaquila cannot be registered because it is too close to the designation origin of tequila.” Musk’s team challenged this objection in a July 16th response that states Teslaquila was a variation to Tesla and the suffix ‘quila’. Six months later on January 16th, the final word came down and the MIIP declared that it could not be registered as a brand.
While the CRT denied the Teslaquila name, that did not stop the overall production of the joke. Making it to final production was “Tesla Tequila”. Product design director at Tesla, Javier Verdura was asked about this effect on the company’s name and timeline, but he declined to make any statements.
The first step a company must take to establish a brand is the process of registration. There are more than 1,800 brands of tequila, and the same registration process is followed by all 164 companies that sell these brands.
According to Munoz, Tesla abandoned the name Teslaquila in February of last year, and decided to move forward, only this time with ‘Tesla Tequila’. Tesla Tequila is registered in both the US and Mexico. And in Mexico, it is associated with Destiladora del Valle de Tequila, which is located in Tequila, Jalisco, one of several states where tequila is produced.
As if the name wasn’t a hurdle enough, the next hurdle to cross was the iconic lightning bolt shaped bottle that Tesla Tequila comes in. In a statement made by Verdura, “several providers told us the glass bottles were impossible to mass produce”. The design is inspired by the icon of Tesla’s GPS maps that indicates where a charging station is located. He also goes on to say that the release of the tequila has little to do with external factors, like the pandemic — but actually with the unique design of the bottle. Though it’s worth noting that overall tequila consumption has increased this year.
Launching on November 5th at $250 per lightning bottle, Tesla Tequila sold out that same day. Verdura says, “there was no doubt this was going to be the result”. A California based brand, Nosotros Tequila, produced the product. After Tesla had tasted several tequila brands and “their tequila was the best one”.
And to top off a successful launch, the CRT is delighted with this outcome and ultimately celebrates this as a win as well. “Today the tequila industry has someone as important as Elon Musk representing it,” Muñoz said. “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.”