Santa Claus at free zone

Santa Claus at free zone


Christmas memories are usually filled with Santa Claus, be it him being featured in Christmas movie, or a graphical depiction of him being used on various products ranging from clothes, cake boxes, packaging of various products etc. However, the question which arises, if the character of Santa Claus is so widely used and to gain commercially benefits by attracting consumers, then who owns it and how is the intellectual property rights of the proprietor protected.

Santa Claus art works which are often used by brands to promote their Christmas related products can be protected copyright law. It is important to note that the copyright protection shall not be given to the character of Santa Claus to the artist but he will be accorded with the copyright protection over his particular drawing or his particular artistic depiction of Santa Claus only. The depiction of Santa Claus in Coca-Cola’s winter advertisement was done by artist Haddon Sundblom but because this artistic work was based on a real person, it could not be granted copyright protection as it was not unique. However, if an artist comes up with an original depiction of Santa Claus then it shall be copyright protected on account of being an original artistic work of that artist. Commercial exploitation of Santa Clause depicted in any unique way can be done without attracting IP violations as no particular person or entity owns the character of Santa Claus.

Santa claus and Trade mark

Coming to the prospect of trademark protection for using the word “Santa Claus” or the character of Santa Claus being used to identify the products or services of one brand from another, U.S has several registered trademarks depicting various creative images of Santa Claus. Since, there are so many trademarks of Santa Claus being registered and used during Christmas season, the function of a trademark to distinguish the products belonging to one brand from another may be questioned. To resolve any confusion, it has to be noted that all these trademarks depicting Santa Claus have some other element attached to it which distinguishes it from any other Santa Claus trademark and clears out any chance of deception. Most trademarks registered in the U.S depicting Santa Claus have another word mark or graphical mark included which fulfills the criteria of distinctiveness and is capable to be protected under trademark law.


Hence it can be concluded by saying that the marks of any criteria are capable of being registered if they have qualified the essentials of distinctiveness and also are not arising in any form of likelihood of confusion.

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