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July 5, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Carey Files Trademark Application for “Queen of Christmas”: John Rizvi on Fox TV KTVU San Francisco

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It's a familiar song. It's a Christmas classic, but Mariah Carey is looking to turn her holiday hit into a bigger brand. She's trying to trademark herself “The Queen of Christmas.” A patent expert joins us live to discuss. We'll see if she has a chance.

You can stop singing, Alex. It is a holiday hit. Of course Mariah Carey's classic Christmas song—it tops the charts every holiday season. Well now the singer wants to officially hold the title of “The Queen of Christmas.” She filed a petition to trademark the title, but at least one artist is taking legal action to block Mariah Carey's request. For more now we are joined live tonight by John Rizvi, an adjunct professor of patent law and The Patent Professor at Nova Southeastern Law School here in Florida. Thanks so much for being here. So can someone declare themselves “The Queen of Christmas?

Well, yes, they can file an application for “The Queen of Christmas,” which is what Mariah Carey did. And then, trademark law is interesting in that it's very similar to, I guess at a wedding, when a preacher would say, “If anyone, you know, believes this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony to object now, or forever hold your peace.” In trademark law, they get 30 days to object. And that's— when we're doing that 30 day period is when another songwriter, Elizabeth Chan, who sings only Christmas music, filed an objection.

Okay, so I'll get to the objection in just a moment. But what does Mariah Carey need to do to prove this claim that she is “The Queen of Christmas?”

So essentially, she needs to show that there is no likelihood of confusion; that there's goods and products, services, perhaps, that she's planning to sell. And she has filed for perfume, makeup, sunglasses, skincare products, even dog sweaters, dog clothing. So, what she needs to show is, of course, an intent to use “The Queen of Christmas” with these products, and that there is no likelihood of confusion or no one that's going to be harmed that has previous rights to this name. And certainly, as you mentioned, there's more than one artist that's come forward and claimed rights to this.

Right, so let's start with one of them that you mentioned, Elizabeth Chan. She says she's the only notable singer songwriter who only creates original holiday songs. And then there is Darling Love—which a lot of people may recognize, the Grammy winner—says that she was actually called “The Queen of Christmas” by David Letterman, a year before Mariah song was released. What do you make of those two arguments?

So the first argument has—by Elizabeth Chan—has a lot of merit. I mean, she's claiming that as of 2013, she had an album, in fact, entitled Queen of Christmas. She's only singing the Christmas holiday music, holiday songs, and, and has filed her opposition. Now Darlene Love has not filed a formal opposition, but she's come out swinging as well, saying, in fact, that 29 years ago David Letterman declared her “The Queen of Christmas.” And then she has a song that’s well known for Christmas: Baby, Please Come Home. So they both have fairly strong arguments. And in one of them, of course, Elizabeth Chan, has filed an actual objection in opposition, opposing the mark.

Yeah, okay. We are out of time, but chances that Mariah Carey walks away with the title “The Queen of Christmas,” likely or unlikely?

I would say it's unlikely.

Okay, you heard it here. Thanks so much. Really appreciate the conversation, a fun conversation. I think a lot of people are thinking how they want to declare themselves The King or Queen of something. We'll see what happens. Really appreciate it, John. Thank you.

Thank you. Pleasure.

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