Christmas Tales Related to Intellectual Property and Commercial Law

It’s our last blog article for the year so we’ve done a Christmas round up of stories related to Commercial Law, Dispute Resolution and Intellectual Property!

The Grinch’s Cease and Desist Letter

Years ago a small town in the States known as Louisville, Kentucky was getting ready to host a Grinch themed display before receiving a “Cease & Desist” letter ordering them to stop. The letter was from lawyers representing the estate for children’s author Dr.Seuss citing copyright infringement. (We wonder if the Grinch himself would have approved of this?) The town’s Mayor was very upset and was quoted as saying “it appears these lawyers’ hearts are two sizes too small.” Even though it was meant to be an event out of appreciation for the classic Dr.Seuss story, the estate’s lawyers felt otherwise.

Click to read more here.

The Dr. Seuss estate is known to be extremely litigious. In recent years they’ve shut down annual celebrations in Whooville in the Harbour and sent Cease and Desist letters to photographers who create The Grinch themed photo shoots.

Do you Own the Copyright of your Santa Claus Photos?

Annual shopping mall Santa photos typically flood your social media feed at this time of year. More than likely the business who has taken them still own the rights to the image meaning you aren’t allowed to make additional copies of them or stick your family’s Christmas photo on products that you intend to sell. It depends on the terms and conditions of your Christmas photo shoot so make sure to check with the business providing the services if in doubt.

What Laws Does Santa Break Each Year?

This one’s just for fun! When Santa does his rounds each Christmas, what laws does he likely break?

  • The naughty or nice list – collecting people’s information would need to adhere to The Privacy Act.
  • Employee rights – ensuring all those elves making toys are a legal age to do so and working with the right employee protections in a safe workplace.
  • Drink driving – all those nips of whiskey and bottles of beer left out for Santa would mean he has to be careful of drink driving in his sleigh!
  • Speeding – he needs to go pretty fast to deliver toys around the world in one night, risking plenty of speeding fines.
  • Animal welfare – making sure his reindeer are looked after under all applicable animal welfare laws.

Any other laws you would add?

Mariah Carey’s Christmas Legal Disputes

Mariah Carey has well and truly thawed for her yearly Christmas hit to be played in every store and radio station throughout December.

She’s gone through a few legal disputes regarding her Christmas song.

Mariah Carey has recently been sued over alleged copyright infringement with her song “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

As reported in Billboard, she now faces a second lawsuit from songwriter Andy Stone – who performed under the name Vince Vance – who filed then withdrew a similar claim in 2022.

And in 2022 Carey’s company, Lotion LLC, filed a petition to trade mark the title “Queen of Christmas” as well as the terms “Princess Christmas” and “QOC” for a range of products, from fragrances and makeup to clothing, jewelry and dog accessories.

Unfortunately two other artists known for their seasonal songs publicly took issue with Carey trying to trade mark “Queen of Christmas” – Darlene Love, who said David Letterman christened her Queen of Christmas nearly three decades ago, and Elizabeth Chan, who describes herself as “music’s only full-time Christmas singer-songwriter.” Chan filed a motion in opposition with the Trial Trade Mark and Appeal Board finally making a “judgment by default,” rejecting Carey’s trade mark request.

Mariah Carey might not hold the trade mark for the “Queen of Christmas” but many people still believe she is!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year from the whole Litton Legal team. See you in 2024.