July 2004 Archives

Santa Did Not Violate His Own Copyright

July 30, 2004

The parties sold self inflating Santa dolls and other holiday items. Plaintiff sued alleging that, among other things, defendant infringed a copyright plaintiff held on its Santa doll. Although each doll had features that set them apart, the "stereotypical features common to all Santa Clauses, which depict a jolly, rotund, elderly gentleman, wearing a traditional red suit . . ." were so common and therefore ineligible for copyright registration. The court held that "[w]here the similarity is because both items contain stereotypical features common to the subject matter" those items do not contain sufficient originality to invoke copyright protection and that infringement could therefore not be found.