Who Can Own the “Queen of Christmas”?

All I Want For Christmas is a Trademark

Can someone own the word Christmas?  Is “Queen of Christmas” a protectable brand name?  How, exactly, does a superstar like Mariah Carey find herself in the middle of a trademark battle challenging her claim to own the brand the “Queen of Christmas”?  Why would someone file for trademark protection on Christmas?  What really happened in this supposed holiday skirmish? Let’s dive in with a little background first…

It is rare to find anyone who is not familiar with Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album.  The album is one of the most popular Christmas albums of all time.  Released in 1994, it is heard every year in movies, videos, the radio, and other forms of content (sing it with us now – “All I Want for Christmas is…yoooooooooooooooouuuuuu”).

In fact, it wasn’t until 2020 that the album’s most famous song, All I Want for Christmas is You, reached the top spot in the UK charts.  In the United States, it paved the way for making Carey the first artist to have No.1 song on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in four different decades.  Despite these accolades and her Christmas fame, Carey’s attempt at acquiring a trademark for the “Queen of Christmas” title failed when the application went abandoned in November 2022.

Are The Holidays are for Everyone?

Mariah Carey’s trademark application sparked controversy as Christmas song artists challenged her claim.

One artist, Darlene Love, popular for her recording of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) in 1963, claims that she holds the title of Christmas, being officially declared the “Queen of Christmas” 29 years before Mariah Carey’s album by David Letterman.
With possibly an even stronger claim to the title, Elizabeth Chan, a full time Christmas songwriter who also claims to have been dubbed the “Queen of Christmas”, filed an opposition to Mariah Carey’s mark, publicly noting that Christmas and the holiday’s is “meant to be shared; it’s not meant to be owned”.

Opposing in the Nick of Time

When a trademark application is initially approved by the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO), any interested party has 30 days to either file an opposition or file an extension of time to file an opposition.

In Carey’s situation, Elizabeth Chan filed two extensions of time to oppose the “Queen of Christmas” application before finally submitting their opposition to the trademark. In their opposition, Chan’s first sentence stated “Christmas is big enough for more than one ‘Queen’” before going into detail on Chan’s own continuous of the “Queen of Christmas” brand. In the end, Carey did not respond to the opposition by Chan, leading to the abandonment of the trademark application.

And That’s a Wrap!

This Christmas trademark saga ended with the “Queen of Christmas” title remaining off the trademark registry. It is rather odd that Carey decided not to respond to Chan, conceding her Queen title.(Maybe she would have benefited from reading our free Tricks of the Trademark guide to learn more about the importance of protecting her brand…).

While this may come as bad news for Carey and her fans, it allows individuals like Chan and Love who have dedicated years to holiday music to continue to use the title for themselves. Interestingly, this does not prevent Carey from claiming the title of being the “Queen of Christmas.” Instead, it only prevents her from claiming exclusive rights to the brand in relation to the goods and services listed in her application. All in all, the battle for who the “Queen of Christmas” can still continue.

See you next holiday season to see who else will go for the Christmas crown!

In the meantime, why not schedule a complimentary consultation with Wilson Dutra Innovation Law today to talk all things branding?