In the spirit of the holidays, we thought we’d take a quick look through the UK and EU Intellectual Property Office registers to see what Christmas-themed trademark registrations we could find.

We found quite a few seasonal puns:

  • ‘Beery Christmas’ for a.o. beer and brewery products;
  • ‘Santa Claws’ for a.o. toys, games, balls, novelties and playthings, relating to animals, birds and fish;
  • ‘National Elf Service’ for the provision of information on health problems, health guidance and health policy online;
  • ‘Hoppy Christmas’, another for beer; and
  • ‘Mr. Christmas’ for a.o. scientific apparatus and instruments, lighting apparatus, precious metals, musical instruments, paper, furniture, games and decorations.

Humour value (or not) aside, there are a few important points to consider if you are thinking of applying for a trademark for a holiday-themed slogan or brand.

Can you own Christmas?

While there is no specific bar on registering terms related to Christmas (or other annual holidays), any trademark application for a logo or word associated with Christmas for goods or services that are associated with Christmas – e.g. ‘Christmas decor’ for Christmas decorations – will likely face an objection on the basis the mark is too descriptive.

In other words, you can – in theory – register logos or words associated with Christmas, so long as you otherwise fulfil the criteria for registration, namely:

  • Your mark must be available for registration in your chosen class: i.e. the same or a similar trademark must not have been already registered in your class or jurisdiction for the same or similar group of services;
  • The chosen mark must be ‘distinctive’: the more distinctive the brand name or slogan you select, the more likely it will be that your trademark will be awarded protection by the relevant register;
  • The chosen mark must not be too ‘descriptive’: if the trademark is too descriptive of the goods or services or any characteristics of them, then the trademark office will likely object to your mark.

Fulfilling such criteria for Christmas-related products may prove easier said than done, however. “Where possible, it is recommended to involve your IP attorneys at the early stages of brand development, as the more original and ‘distinctive’ the word or sign chosen, the easier it will be to obtain and enforce trademark registration,” Novagraaf’s Claire Jones advises. “Once you have chosen your mark, you may want to consider filing a trademark application 6 to 12 months in advance of the launch of your holiday-themed brand or slogan, in order to protect your trademark rights in good time, as well as to identify any pre-existing trademark rights that may impact your ability to use your chosen brand name or slogan.”