Mariah Carey, singer of the famous Christmas song "All I want for Christmas is you", tried unsuccessfully to obtain the registration of the trademark "Queen of Christmas" in the United States. Back on a Christmas controversy!
Mariah Carey's registration of the "Queen of Christmas" trademark
After declaring on several occasions that she could not be the Queen of Christmas - according to her, this title belongs "only to Mary, the mother of Jesus" - the diva has created amazement by filing Queen of Christmas" trademark application in the United States.
Mariah Carey's attempt to appropriate a concept
A trademark gives its owner the right to prohibit its commercial exploitation by other actors, for the registered goods and services. Indeed, in application of the principle of speciality, the trademark is only protected for the goods or services mentioned in its wording and grouped under different classes.
Obtaining the registration would have allowed Mariah Carey to prevent the commercial exploitation of the terms "Queen of Christmas" by others, in connection with the numerous goods and services for which she had registered the trademark: perfumes, music recordings, sanitary masks, dog clothes, drinks, online sales of Christmas decorations, cookies, etc.
The registration of a trademark also allows its owner to grant licenses to third parties. Mariah Carey could have benefited from royalties paid under these licenses.
The U.S. Trademark Office's examination procedure
The singer filed her trademark on March 10, 2021 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Officethe American Office in charge of the registration of trademarks. But this request was finally rejected. Mariah Carey has indeed encountered several obstacles during this procedure.
Initially, the U.S. Office opposed the fact that a trademark Christmas Queen had already been registered for products identical to some of the ones she had mentioned (notably Christmas tree decorations and clothing), and that the wording was not correctly drafted. Unlike the French INPI, the U.S. office conducts an availability search of registered trademarks. It verifies that the mark applied for does not conflict with any mark already filed or registered. If it does, it may refuse to register the mark. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to call upon a professional to perform a background check preliminary.
After this first examination of availability and distinctivityIf a trademark application is not filed within 30 days of the date of publication of the application, the trademark application is published and third parties have the opportunity to oppose the registration of the trademark. This possibility is open to them for 30 days from the publication of the trademark application. In the United States, opposition is a legal procedure, much longer and more expensive than the French administrative procedure.
The Christmas divas strike back
Mariah Carey is not the only "Queen of Christmas
This trademark filing has caused outrage from other Christmas divas, including singer Elizabeth Chan who stated that "Christmas is for everyone. It's meant to be shared; it's not meant to be owned." As a result, she filed an opposition to Mariah Carey's trademark registration. Much less known, Elizabeth Chan has dedicated her career to Christmas music. She has released an album called Queen of Christmas in September 2021.
Another queen of Christmas joined her in her fight: Darlene Love, known for her song "Christmas Baby please come home", ensuring that she was the queen of Christmas long before Mariah. Following this opposition procedure, and the numerous criticisms against her, Mariah Carey finally abandoned her trademark project.
Mariah should however have a merry Christmas
Last year, Mariah Carey said she had "the best Christmas ever": "My own menu at one of my favorite restaurants". The diva and McDonald's fast food chain collaborated to offer "the Mariah Menu", a special holiday menu.
This year, she will have to share the title of Queen of Christmas. However, she won't have too much to complain about, since, like every year, she should receive enough income thanks to her hit "All I want for Christmas is you". This one would have allowed her to earn 60 million dollars in royalties since its release in 1994.
In short, don't be like Mariah Carey: be careful if you plan to trademark a mainstream expression!