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  • Denny Esford

“Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals:” A Trademark Gift to Two Brothers

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to listen to Christmas music, bake cookies, and watch holiday movies. For many of us, that means re-watching the classic movie, Home Alone, and its sequels. Many parts of those movies stand out, particularly Macaulay Culkin’s wide eyed scream when he applies after shave. However, most of the parts you remember fondly have not made the news because of intellectual property law. Only one has done that, and it’s the catchy phrase “Merry Christmas ya filthy animal.”


While it is not meant to associate with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, it does bring to mind the Christmas movie, making it a very popular seller. One woman recently tried to stop this, claiming that Elliott and Dustin Fisher, brothers who run an online clothing store, infringed on her copyright and trademark.


What is interesting in this case is the timeline xenical medication. The Fisher brothers applied for and received a trademark for the phrase in 2013, and it has been one of their biggest sellers ever since. Santana Jade Cline applied for the trademark on October 30 of this year, just one week before she filed suit against the brothers. She did not file for a copyright until eight days later.


So, clearly the Fisher brothers have the rights to the phrase as trademarks normally belong to the first person or entity to use a mark in commerce. A judge recently agreed with this, stating that Cline could not claim trademark nor copyright protection for the phrase. Cline argued back that the brothers’ rights were invalid, as they lied on their application and said that the mark would include images of animals, not the ornaments the sweaters feature. The lying on a application could potentially cause validity problems, but the judge held that Cline’s argument did not stand up.


Those of you who love the movie will be pleased to know that you can still purchase that phrase on sweaters to wear this season. Cline’s lawsuit did take the brothers’ merchandise off of Internet retailers for a short period. They are very happy now to be back up and running, to help those Home Alone lovers have a Merry Christmas.

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