I have finally been permitted to put on the Christmas tunes, and first on my festive playlist happens to be Mariah’s ubiquitous “All I want for Christmas is You!”. It will surely be among the most played on the airwaves once again this year.
No doubt buoyed by the notion that her dulcet tones are synonymous with the holiday season, Ms Carey recently applied in the US for trademark protection of the phrase “Queen of Christmas”. Her application failed following an objection filed by less well-known singer/songwriter Elizabeth Chan (who apparently has a huge back catalogue of Christmas songs). Aside from the suggestion that she herself might be a contender for that particular crown, Ms Chan objected more generally to Carey’s attempt to “monetise Christmas”.
Mariah may not be able to prevent others styling themselves “Queen of Christmas”, but the estate of the late Michael Jackson does hold a monopoly over use of the phrase King of Pop’! 40 years after the release of the iconic Thriller album, it is fair to say that the association between MJ and the ‘title’ holds strong. There have been some interesting cases relating to this trademark over the years, including an ongoing dispute with a popcorn producer over their use of the domain name “KingofPop.com”.
All of this serves as a useful reminder that trademark protection can extend well beyond simple brand names. My intrepid trainee Andrew was recently tasked with finding some more unusual trademarks – here is a selection of my favourites:
- Taylor Swift – the lyric “This sick beat” from her single “Shake it Off”
- Mo Farah – the “Mobot” symbol
- Usain Bolt – his signature lightning bolt celebration post.
- Unicorn (a producer of darts) – “the smell of strong bitter beer” on their range of darts. (This was troublesome for IP registration officials because most darts begin to smell like beer, but the application was nevertheless successful)
- Kim Kardashian – her children’s names – Palm, North, Saint and Chicago.
- Eiffel Tower – The night-time light show at the Eiffel Tower
- Nintendo – The phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong”
- Michael Buffer – Boxing/Wrestling announcer Michael Buffer trademarked the phrase “Let’s get ready to rumble” and has reportedly made more than $400 million from licensing its use in the decades since.
- Lucasfilm – The sound of Darth Vader’s breathing!!!
The Mills Selig IP team advises on applications for trademark protection and on claims of alleged infringement.
Kirsten Magee, Partner, Litigation
Kirsten is a highly skilled and experienced commercial litigator with a background in advising both private and public sector clients on a wide range of complex, high-value disputes.