Santa Claus and Intellectual Property

Santa Claus and Intellectual Property

Who owns Santa Claus?

A holly jolly season is upon us! Christmas spirit is everywhere, and Intellectual Property is no exception to a sprinkling of holiday cheer. 

Have a very merry Christmas from Quality Oracle and here is our gift from us to you. Here are some fun and festive Intellectual Property bites about the father figure of Christmas, Santa Claus. 

Can I trademark ‘Santa Claus’?

Santa Claus is inexplicably linked to the Christmas season as the smiling man in a red suit who brings presents down from the chimney. As the barometer of naughty-or-nice, the figure of Santa was based on folklore traditions surrounding Saint Nicholas and made popular based on ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas,’ a poem written in 1823. 

Also known as Father Christmas, Santa is a popular figure not only amongst children, but also to companies due to various attempts of owning the rights to his name. 

The Intellectual Property Office records at least 20 live trademarks relating to the name of Santa Claus, and a further five trademarks associated with the words Father Christmas. Over 3000 applications have been made in connection with ‘Santa’ in the United States. These applications cover a wide range of trademark classes, including apparel, home goods and children’s toys. 

Companies are seeking the rights to more than Santa’s name. The image of Santa Claus, popularised by American beverage giant The Coca-Cola Company in 1931, is also a hot commodity for many looking to capitalise on the likeness of a smiling, chubby man in a red suit. 

In 1931, Swedish illustrator Haddon Sundblom was commissioned by Coca-Cola Company to paint Santa Claus for commercial purposes during the holiday season. The resulting artwork has been unintentionally marketed as the public image of Santa till this day due to the popularity of its depiction. 

Of course, Coca-Cola Company filed a trademark application in 2002 for Sundblom’s design of Santa. 

More than 150 trademarks exist for the image of Santa with plenty of applications waiting to be approved. The image of Santa is used to sell a large array of goods such as Christmas decorations and gifting items related to the festive season. 

Even domains are not free from Santa’s grasp. A company based in the United Kingdom, Father Christmas Limited, owns the rights to, a website supplying ‘Santa’s calls, texts and messages.’ 

Santa Claus is a gift who keeps on giving for Intellectual Property enthusiasts. All we can say is ho-ho-ho! 

Think you have an image as iconic as Santa Claus? We recommend securing your rights before it’s too late. Get in touch for a free consultation on your next steps to IP protection. 

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