Trademark ownership of Christmas phrases: Mariah Carey denied Queen of Christmas trademark

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected Mariah Carey’s trademark application for “Queen of Christmas”, as well as the terms “QOC” and “Princess Christmas” because her company did not respond to trademark opposition. The trademark would have allowed the star the legal right to stop others from using the title on music and merchandise. Christmas is one of the most desired words to trademark, as many companies would like to capitalize on this specific holiday to increase their sales. And although nobody can own “Christmas”, numerous businesses include the word in their trademarks.


Jan Buza

Mariah Carey's trademark applications

The singer first filed an application with the USPTO back in March 2021 to receive legal grounds to market herself as the "Queen of Christmas" and sell merchandise with the title. The trademark ownership would have given her the legal rights to stop others from using the seasoned title on music, merch, and other holiday and non-holiday-themed goods and services.

Mariah Carey became synonymous with Christmas after her holiday classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You" was first released in 1994. The song has been consistently popular despite the fact that after its initial release, it was not actually eligible to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 because it was not originally released as a commercial single. The song finally hit number one on the Hot 100 in December 2019, and in 2021 became the first holiday single to receive the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) Diamond Award.

A Billboard report showed that in 2021, the song reached 200 million on-demand audio streams, 48,000 downloads, 52.5 million video streams, and 24 million programmed streams in the U.S. Combined, those plays and downloads generated $1.36 million for Carey and her label, Sony Music, Billboard estimates. That number, however, doesn't include royalties from covers, or any revenue made from her T.V. specials, which would further drive the numbers up. It then comes as no surprise that the singer would attempt to further capitalize on her reputation and association with the beloved holiday in the minds of consumers. A trademark application for 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' was filed by Lotion LLC in September 2019. The trademark is registered for use in a wide range of goods and services, including candles, video games, wrapping paper, Christmas cards, towels, garments, Christmas stockings, hot chocolate, wine, eggnog and more.

Mariah Carey's 'Queen of Christmas' trademark application has been criticized by other singers, such as Darlene Love and Elizabeth Chan, for an attempt to monetize on Christmas. Chan, who has released multiple Christmas tracks during her career, including an album titled Queen of Christmas (2021), filed a formal declaration of opposition against Carey's trademark claim. In November 2022, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled against Mariah Carey's application, as Carey's legal team did not file a response to Chan's objection by the fall deadline.

This is not the first attempt by celebrities to monopolize the winter holidays. As per trademark law, it is possible to trademark any holiday name if you use the name to sell or promote your goods or services. One of the most common tactics that celebrities and companies use to choose a trademark, a company logo or a name, is to centre their attention around a specific concept or recognizable word amongst consumers. Registration gives the owner the right to bring a trademark infringement claim against anyone who uses an identical or similar sign, in the course of trade, in connection with goods or services that are identical or similar to those for which the trademark is registered.

Other Christmas Trademarks

Merry Christmas

There are currently a number of live trademark applications and registrations listed in the USPTO register using the term “Merry Christmas”. Some of them include 

  • Registration No. 4077131 by Hidden Wineries, for the term MERRY CHRISTMAS in Class 33: Fruit wine; grape wine; natural sparkling wines; sparkling fruit wine; sparkling grape wine; sparkling wines; sweet wines; white wine; wine; wines; wines and sparkling wines. 

  • Registration No. 1790526 by OWA Inc., in Class 28: Christmas tree ornaments and decorations.

Other companies can still apply to register the ‘Merry Christmas’ trademark for their goods and services, but their trademark has to attain the required level of distinctiveness in Nice classes, proving that there are no similar trademarks registered.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, is one of the ubiquitous symbols of Christmas, with the character dating back to the 17th century, and the original figure of Saint Nicholas dating back to around 280 A.D. However, this hasn’t stopped businesses from trademarking the name for their products and services. The USPTO currently has over 50 live trademarks, which include the words ‘Santa Claus’ and ‘Father Christmas’. Some examples are:

  • Registration No. 6616989 by CENTENNIAL MEDIA LLC, in Class 16: Magazines in the field of Christmas-related content, holiday traditions, and legendary figures.

  • Registration No. 5673045 by VALLE REDONDO, in Class 33: alcoholic beverages, excluding beer.

Registering phrases associated with traditional holidays such as Christmas is a complicated endeavour that is likely to face opposition from other trademark owners. However, incorporating festive phrases in trademarks can significantly raise their distinctiveness and chances of successful application. Professional trademark attorneys can help you navigate the trademark registration process that will ensure full-scope protection in your industry. Schedule a free consultation today to find out more.

Jan Buza
Jan Buza

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