Following in the tradition of my post on Thanksgiving trademarks, I’m going to use the next couple of posts to provide a little bit of info about trademarks related to the Winter holidays. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to get back to the more complicated legal mumbo-jumbo in a few short weeks. For now…
As my faithful readers know, you generally need permission to register someone’s name as a trademark. However, in 2000, the US Government made a statement (through the US Patent and Trademark Office) that they do not believe Santa Claus is real, so it was unnecessary for anyone attempting to protect the name “Santa Claus” as a trademark to get permission from the actual Santa Claus in order to use his name. Of course, you can’t just run to the Trademark Office, apply to register SANTA CLAUS as a trademark, and then declare yourself the owner of Christmas forever and ever. Trademarks need to be connected to specific goods and services, and you would need to show that you are the only entity using the name in connection with whatever it is that you’re providing.
It’s a good thing Santa isn’t real – otherwise, he might be upset that a few years ago, someone tried to register SANTA CLAUS IS A SLUT as a trademark. Sadly, this brilliant entrepreneur failed to comply with some of the USPTO’s technical requirements, so the application didn’t go through.
How about our other holiday friends?
Well, a trademark for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is owned by Rudolph Company, L.P., of course, but it was originally registered by the State National Bank of Evanston – doesn’t that fill you with comfort and joy?
Meanwhile, Time Warner Entertainment owns four trademark registrations for FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1, 2, 3, and 4). No word on whether they had to get Frosty’s permission. One can only assume Calvin didn’t get permission.