Tis the Season: The Battle to Own "Fashion Santa"

Image of Fashion Santa

Looks like Zoolander wants to get festive and play Santa. Or is it Paul Mason? Or whoever Yorkdale Shopping Centre hires to dress up as “Fashion Santa?” Well, that seems to be the issue here. Paul Mason claims ownership over the newly crowned Christmas fashion icon, while Yorkdale Shopping Centre alleges the same.

During the 2015 holiday season, Yorkdale Shopping Centre had their man, Paul Mason. He was “Fashion Santa” during that holiday season and all was jolly in the world. But, in comes Adam Martin to steal Mason’s candy canes. Yorkdale hired Martin this year as their new “Fashion Santa,” which naturally sent Mason into defense mode. Mason alleges that he didn’t return to Yorkdale due to some of the conditions of his employment there, the most contentious of those conditions being the ownership of the “Fashion Santa” brand.

But, it looks a lot like Mason is on the naughty list. Yorkdale filed both copyright and trademark applications back in 2015. The copyright was being prepared for registration 3 months before Mason started in 2014/2015. The trademark was registered in December of 2015 as well, and Mason attempted registration 2 weeks later. Naughty, naughty Mr. Mason, or should I say, Mr. “Not Fashion Santa.”

This is all happening in Canada, and the parties here seem to be a bit confused as to how there is a copyright registration attempt for “Fashion Santa,” and well, I am too. If this is just to protect the “Fashion Santa” name and brand, then this should just be a discussion about the trademark registration. Copyright law (in the US at least) protects original creative works of authorship. This means that copyright protects art, musical works, novels, motion pictures, and other works, it does not however protect brands or names. To my knowledge “Fashion Santa” was never a literary work, so both Yorkdale and Masons copyright registrations will likely not get through. On the other hand, the trademarks will get through, and this will likely come down to a matter of first use.

Yorkdale will likely prevail with their trademark registration for “Fashion Santa,” and Mason will have to look for other Santa employment and branding. Hey, maybe if he gains 80 pounds he can just sit in a chair and field requests from kids as “Santa” in the mall while Adam Martin parades around as “Fashion Santa.” Or maybe Mason could be the “Fashion Grinch” and him and Martin could have a fashion “walk-off” a la Zoolander and Hansel. Oh, the possibilities!