Elon Musk wanted to name his tequila 'Teslaquila' but Mexico wouldn't let him

  • In November, Elon Musk's Tesla brought out a novelty tequila called "Tesla Tequila."
  • Originally, Tesla filed to call the product "Teslaquila," but it was blocked by Mexico's Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT).
  • Essentially if Tesla wanted the prestige of making a tequila, it had to use the word tequila without changing it so as to avoid diluting the brand.
  • Tesla tried to argue the brand name was just "Tesla" with "quila" attached, but the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property refused to let it register the name.
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Tesla's new novelty tequila was originally going to be called "Teslaquila," but because of strict rules in Mexico surrounding the drink it had to settle for the less punny "Tesla Tequila," the Verge reports.

Tesla — which has a history of  launching novelty merchandise, including red satin short-shorts and $1,500 surfboards — in November launched  "Tesla Tequila" for $250. The drink sold out within hours, and resellers even started hawking the empty bottles for up to $700 on eBay. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk first used the word "Teslaquila" in a jokey April 2018 tweet that imagined Tesla had gone bankrupt.

A few months later he seemed set on turning the joke into a piece of branding, as in October 2018 he tweeted: "Teslaquila coming soon."

This proved more difficult than expected. Tequila is a designation of of origin, meaning to call your drink "tequila" you have to produce it in Mexico. According to the Verge, the company tried to brand its drink "Teslaquila" but was blocked by Mexico's Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT).

"[The] name 'Teslaquila' evokes the word Tequila … (and) Tequila is a protected word," the CRT argued in November 2018.

Head of the CRT Martín Muñoz said the name "Teslaquila" could cause confusion about the drink's origin, and in February 2019 the CRT filed an objection. Essentially if Tesla wanted the prestige of making a tequila, it had to use the word tequila without changing it so as to avoid diluting the brand.

A month later, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property ruled "Teslaquila" could not be registered.

Musk's team argued back in July, saying the name was just the Tesla brand name with "quila" added on — but this didn't convince the regulator, which in January handed down its ruling.

Read more: Winning the electric car race is just the beginning of Elon Musk's plan for Tesla

There don't seem to be hard feelings however, as Muñoz told the Verge: "Today the tequila industry has someone as important as Elon Musk representing it. 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."

Tesla Tequila is made by a California-based label called Nosostros tequila, which per Reuters belongs to Mexican producer Casa Maestri.

Tesla's product design officer Javier Verdura did not comment on Tesla tequila's timeline when contacted by the Verge, but he did add the company had trouble finding a manufacturer that could make the distinctive lightning-shaped bottle.

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