Mariah Carey’s ‘Queen of Christmas’ trademark offer irritates other singers
No one has to wait until December for a holiday feud. Mariah Carey’s attempt to register the term “Christmas Queen” as a trademark only she can use is met with fierce resistance from two singers who have also been associated with the term over the years, Darlene Love and Elizabeth Chan. And the latter singer went to court this week to try to stop Carey from monopolizing him.
Love’s music has been a holiday staple ever since she sang several songs on what many consider to be the greatest Christmas pop album of all time, the collection better known as “Phil Spector’s Christmas Album “, in 1963. Chan has built a following and strong media profile as the only singer-songwriter who devotes himself to the exclusive release of Christmas music each year; she even released an album called “Queen of Christmas”. And neither has Carey’s attempt to claim the honorary rights — and the myriad associated merchandising rights — exclusively for herself.
Chan’s attorney filed a formal statement of opposition to Carey’s trademark claim on Friday. Love caught wind of Chan’s possibly impending court battle with Carey, and spoke out on Monday with her own outrage at the pop superstar seeking to legally own the term.
“Is it true that Mariah Carey trademarked ‘Christmas Queen’?” writes Love. “What does it mean, that I can’t use this title?” David Letterman officially declared me Christmas queen 29 years ago, a year before she released “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and at 81, I’m not changing a thing. I’ve been in the business for 52 years, I’ve earned it and I can still hit those notes! If Mariah has a problem, call David or my lawyer!! »
(Love’s association with Christmas music actually spans nearly six decades, and snowballed when Letterman invited her to sing the classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” every year from 1986 to 2014, a tradition that continued on other television programs.)
Chan and his lawyer, Louis W. Tomporos, spoke with Variety over the weekend and shared the argument they are making to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to stop Carey in his snow tracks.
“Christmas came long before all of us on earth, and I hope it will come long after us on earth,
Chan said. “And I’m a big believer that no one should save anything around Christmas or monopolize it in the way that Mariah seeks in perpetuity. It’s just not the right thing to do. Christmas is for everyone. It is meant to be shared; it is not meant to be possessed.
“And it’s not just about the music industry,” Chan continues. “She’s trying to make this brand in every way imaginable – clothes, alcoholic products, masks, dog collars – it’s all over the map. If you knit a ‘Christmas queen’ sweater, you should be able to sell it on Etsy to someone else so they can buy it for their grandma. It’s crazy – it would have this extent of registration.
Carey’s rep did not return a request for comment last week on Chan’s legal filing.
Chan started being called “Christmas Queen” in the press before adopting it herself and using it for an album title in 2021. She says the first time the media used it for her is when “All Access” applied it in 2014, a few years into her 11-year recording career. But that really picked up when The New Yorker profiled her in 2018 with the simple headline: “The Christmas Queen.” The article described Chan like many before and since, as “America’s most successful, and perhaps only, full-time Christmas singer-songwriter”.
Meanwhile, Chan’s statement to the trademark appeal board points out that Carey has said in interviews that she doesn’t want the title. In a interview Carey did it recently at the end of 2021, she resisted it again. “It was other people, and I just want to humbly say that I don’t see myself as that,” she told the Zoe Bell Breakfast Show in the UK. “I am someone who loves Christmas, who had the chance to write ‘All I want for Christmas is you.’ And many other Christmas songs. And let’s face it, you know, everybody’s faith is what it is. But for me, Mary is the queen of Christmas.
“It’s classic brand bullying,” says Tomporos. “What they’re trying to say is we want a monopoly on a Christmas queen in these 16 different product classes and hundreds and hundreds of different product types. And so the idea that she’s saying they haven’t used it before and even rejected the title before, on the one hand, but now “I want it for everything” on the other hand, is really inconsistent.
Said Chan, “In the Christmas music space, I’ve had top 10 singles (on the AC charts) for the past eight years. It’s nothing to sniff at, and it’s hard for someone like me who is always up against the majors I have invested so much in my dream and my career and tried to do something like nothing I have none of the resources but I have all the heart , and I think that’s what helped me.” She says trademarking is “intimidating and scary, because I love what I do.
“But I think people may think it’s just this artist versus this artist. That’s not what it’s about. In his mind, fighting to keep the terminology legally open to all, singers and civilians alike, she saves – if not Christmas – a small part of it.
Tomporos took the case pro bono after Chan spent much of the last year calling trademark attorneys who told him it would be too hard to fight without hundreds of thousands of dollars at his expense. arrangement. “They were giving me condolences for my career. They were like, ‘You don’t have a chance. You can’t afford me.’ The challenge is compounded by the fact that Chan is challenging not just one but four Carey trademarks: Queen of Christmas, QOC, Princess of Christmas and Christmas Princess. Chan has already called his eldest daughter the Christmas Princess and also wants to stop Carey in her tracks.
Why didn’t Carey apply for a “Christmas Queen” trademark, when she was looking to lay claim to several other expressions? Tomporos says records show someone else tried to register the trademark before and failed.
Tomporos says a long period of discovery will come next. “The right thing for them to do, after seeing the opposition, is to drop this,” the lawyer says. “If they want to start selling ‘Christmas Queen’ products, fine, they can do that without the brand.”
Chan explained what led her to pursue such an unusual recording career in a Variety profile last December titled, “Elizabeth Chan, pop’s only full-time Christmas singer-songwriter, on Why the season is his reason for making music.” This story began by imagining a purely ironic competition for the title, unaware of how serious it would soon become: “Fandoms like to argue over whether Mariah Carey or Darlene Love is the real Queen of Christmas. But can you really be queen if you don’t make Christmas music full time?”
They aren’t the only three to have been named Kings of Christmas in the past. Brenda Lee recorded several Christmas songs in the late ’50s and ’60s, and her 1958 recording of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 the last three consecutive years, retained by the top only by Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Lee, 77, could not be reached to find out if she, too, had a beef with Carey wanting to legally lock down the moniker.
Is Tomporos worried about the backlash that might come from Carey’s very, very dedicated lambs? ‘No, I was joking with Elizabeth earlier than if I had faced Alt Right/Infowars activists and Alex Jones in one case’ – he represented Pepe the Frog creator in copyright cases protecting the character from cartoon to be co-opted by the far right – “then everything will be fine here.”