Mariah Carey released her hit Christmas song “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in 1994. The song has been a perennial favorite every holiday season since. Due to the song’s success and her related association with the Christmas season, Carey applied to trademark “Queen of Christmas” in March 2021. But that application was denied in late 2022 by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Carey Seeks to Capitalize on Her Ubiquitous Holiday Favorite
According to Billboard, while “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was not an immediate hit, the song made Carey the first artist to have a Hot 100 over four different decades. The song has only increased in popularity, reaching number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2019 and number one on the UK singles chart in 2020. It has been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify.
In 2021, Billboard dubbed Carey the “undisputed Queen of Christmas,” which Carey pointed to as evidence in her application. Carey, through her company Lotion LLC, argued that her connection to the name “Queen of Christmas” is inextricable. She also applied to trademark “Princess of Christmas” and “QOC.” Carey sought the exclusive right to use the terms on a wide range of Christmas merchandise sold by her company, which already owns more than 35 other trademarks, including her name with a monogram inside a butterfly, other monograms, hair products, and “MIMI.” The application described the use of the trademark for everything from face masks and music to soy milk and jewelry boxes.
If Not Carey, Then Who Is the True Queen of Christmas?
Singer Elizabeth Chan opposed Carey’s application through her company doing business as Merry Bright Music Enterprises. Chan was dubbed “Queen of Christmas” in 2018 by The New Yorker. She describes herself as “pop music’s only full-time Christmas singer-songwriter.”
Chan has released an album of original Christmas music every year for a decade, including 12 Months of Christmas, which was released October 10, 2022, and Queen of Christmas, which was released September 30, 2021—six months after Carey filed her application for the mark. In fact, her website states that it is the “OFFICIAL SITE of The Queen of Christmas, Christmas Songwriter and Artist Elizabeth Chan.” Chan argued that the title “is a perennial nickname that has been and will continue to be bestowed on multiple future singers for decades to come.” Chan contended that if Carey’s request were successful, Carey would have been able to sue anyone using the term or selling products using the phrase “Queen of Christmas.” According to Chan, monopolizing a nickname like “Queen of Christmas” is contrary to the true meaning of Christmas.
Chan argued that the application should be denied due to the likelihood of confusion. Further, Chan asserted that the mark creates a false association because it is effectively the same as her own use, arguing that the mark “points unmistakably to Ms. Chan in connection with activities not connected to Ms. Chan.” In other words, if Carey uses the mark “Queen of Christmas,” the public will connect the mark to Chan and not Carey. Chan further pointed to a Daily Mail article quoting Carey as saying that while other people may call her the Queen of Christmas, she doesn’t consider herself that.
Carey Abandons Her Application
Carey originally filed her application for the mark in March 2021. Chan filed her opposition on August 11, 2022. While Carey received two extensions of time to answer Chan’s opposition to her application, Carey ultimately failed to file any responses. Carey received a notice of default on October 1, and the application was declared abandoned and therefore rejected on November 15, 2022. Within days, Chan’s website was updated to add “The Queen of Christmas,” and based on her filing, the title seems to be one she is more than willing to share with Carey and others.