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Gather ’round, merry readers, for a whimsical journey through the jingle bells and legal wonders of Santa Claus’ world! Beyond the snowy beard and belly like a bowl full of jelly lies a story woven with historical quirks, creative rights, and a touch of trademarked tinsel.

Picture Saint Nicholas stealthily delivering gifts in ancient Myra. Flash forward to the Dutch settlers sprinkling Sinterklaas magic on American soil, brewing up our modern-day Santa Claus.

Then, in a stroke of poetic genius, Clement Clarke Moore penned the infamous “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” (although we today know it as “The Night Before Christmas”). With a poetic flourish, Moore bestowed upon Santa his iconic sleigh, eight reindeer, and a wardrobe that would make fashionistas jealous.

Next up, we have Thomas Nast, the Michelangelo of his time, wielding his artistic prowess to sketch Santa with more style than a runway model, setting the mistletoe standard for the big guy’s look.

Ah, the 1930s! Coca-Cola decked Santa out in their red hues, turning him into a holiday billboard sensation. While Coca-Cola does not own Santa himself (imagine the paperwork on that!), they do have a trademark on their artistic rendering of the jolly man in red, making their Santa distinct in the crowded holiday season.

Think of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – their Santa float is like the cherry on top of their holiday sundae. While they can’t claim the rights to Santa, the specific design of their float might have its own copyrights, ensuring that their floating Santa stands out like a shining star in the holiday parade sky.

You’ve seen them on toy shelves: Santa figurines from various companies, each with their own ho-ho flair. While Santa remains a public figure, these companies might hold copyrights or trademarks for their particular Santas. Picture Santa fighting for shelf space like kids fighting for the last candy cane!

Movies and TV shows paint their own Santa tales. While the character itself isn’t owned, specific portrayals in these productions may be subject to copyright, ensuring no one else’s Santa is quite as frosty or festive.

And oh, those holiday-themed logos! Companies bring Santa into their branding like ornaments on a tree. While the idea of Santa cannot be protected, the unique designs could be!

So, while we’re dashing through Santa’s snow-covered kingdom, remember: this blend of legal tidbits and festive cheer is more delightful than trying to wrap a present with too little tape. Cheers to the trademarked tinsel and copyrighted cheer that make the magic of Santa twinkle a little brighter each holiday season!

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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