To trademark Christmas would be something akin to ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ – unthinkable? Well think again. There are 126 UK and EU trademark registrations that include Christmas in their names (at the last count), including the Spirit of Christmas, registered to Heatons, Dublin. And there is worse, Christmas is owned by Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG (the owners of Playmobil). Maybe they have a special supply agreement with Santa Claus and his elves…
Just think, if we were charged royalties on the use of the word Christmas, say at a relatively modest fee of 5%, the annual bill could be approximately £1.2bn each year in the UK alone.
So, what is Christmas really about – for instance, if a charity owned the trademark and all the manufacturers and retailers paid 7% towards good causes (such as fighting the Ebola epidemic) then maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing? At least then we could shop with a clearer conscience, happy in the knowledge that whatever the recipient thought of our gift (over 10% of all Christmas presents are unwanted by the way) at least someone who was more needy would benefit.
Whatever our feelings about Christmas, it goes to show that trademarks are an essential part of a brand’s armoury and a key consideration in its development. As brand designers, our duty is to help our clients to navigate the complexities of brand stewardship and to work with their intellectual property experts to help ensure future security and integrity.
You will be no doubt relieved to know that the Father Christmas trademark has expired, or is this an omen…?
By Myles Pinfold – Director of Brand Strategy and Planning