Fashion Santa became a worldwide social media phenomenon when the character debuted at Yorkdale Shopping Mall in Toronto during the holiday season of 2014. The stylish Saint Nick, portrayed by Paul Mason, drew folks from far and wide to take a selfie with the holiday icon. However, a clash between Mason and Yorkdale prevented Mason from reprising his role this year. Mason has said he chose not to return to Yorkdale because of a dispute regarding ownership of the FASHION SANTA brand. Mason claims that he created the promotional character, but Yorkdale’s management disagrees.
CIPO records show that Mason registered copyright in a literary work first published September 23, 2014 entitled “Fashion Santa” on December 22, 2015. He filed a trademark application for FASHION SANTA on December 21, 2015. Meanwhile, Oxford Properties Group Inc, which manages Yorkdale Shopping Mall, filed trademark applications on December 8, 2015 for FASHION SANTA and YORKDALE FASHION SANTA.
The battle has yet to make its way to court. If it does, a judge would likely need to consider the nature of the contract between the parties in conjunction with the trademark applications and copyright registration, as well as use of the marks, in order to determine the ultimate ownership of the FASHION SANTA brand and of any copyright in the Fashion Santa character. In the interim, Yorkdale has a new Fashion Santa in place and Paul Mason has promised to find a way to bring his own reprisal of the Fashion Santa character to his fans.
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