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Dawn Ellmore tracks the patent history of Santa Claus

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It’s Christmas once again, and time to get together with family to welcome a new year. For many people, the festive period is tied up with traditions and well-worn, comfortable routines. It generally starts with the anticipation on Christmas Eve as everyone waits for the magic to start. Santa Claus is integral to our ideas of Christmas, which is why we’ve tracked his personal patent history.

As well as eating, drinking and making merry, one of the defining characteristics of Christmas in 2018 is its commercialisation. In 2017, according to the Official of National Statistics, the average amount spent by each household in the UK was around £821. We expect to see an increase on this for Christmas 2018, as consumers continue to spend online and in the high street.

Santa Claus and his patent history

Santa himself is a major contributory factor in consumer spending, as he adorns so many festive products. From decorations to alcoholic drinks, toys and games to festive Christmas jumpers and hats for the dog, it’s impossible to get through the festive period without purchasing something with a red and white colour scheme.

The red and white clad Santa Clause we know today has been around since the 1870s. His modern image was largely constructed by cartoonist Thomas Nast in the late 19th century, and not by Coca Cola in 1933 as many people state. Either way, we all know exactly what the modern Santa looks like.

And with such an iconic image, it’s no surprise to find out that he has inspired inventors for almost a century in coming up with ever-more ambitious Santa Claus related patents.

The Santa Claus detector

In 1994, Thomas Cane from California filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office (UPO) for US Patent 5523741. His patent was granted on 4 June 1996 for his Santa Claus Detector. A special Christmas stocking for children, the idea of the patent involved the stocking lighting up when Santa is ‘near’. Power sources would be hidden inside the stocking and activated by a pull cord. Perfect for getting the kids even more excited on Christmas Eve.

The Santa Visit Kit

Granted in August 2007, US Patent number 7258592 is for collection of items gathered together to form a ‘Santa has been’ kit. Various aids to keeping the mystery alive are included in the kit, including stencils for Santa’s ‘footprints’, reindeer hoofprints, glitter, a letter from ‘Santa’ to the child/children in the house and instructions for parents to carry out the elaborate preparations.

The Santa Claus Bank

Filed on 29 March 1948 by MJ Singer in New York, Patent 2635383 is for a cheerful looking Santa Claus Bank. According to the details, the patent is for a “musical bank device”. Santa Claus is depicted carrying a basket. The user puts a coin in Santa’s hand and winds him up, and he transfers the coin to his basket to a festive tune.

The Santa Claus-like Decorative Object

Patent US 5458932 was filed in 1992 and granted in 1995 to Benson Zinbarg and Norma Amlicke of Stamford, Connecticut. It seems to be for a decoration made up of flexible bags that form the shape of Santa.

The Nativity Scene Decoration Including Santa Claus and Rudolph

This patent was filed in 2008 and granted in February 2009. This is a design patent and shows illustrations of an ornament based around the nativity but including Santa and Rudolph in a fusion of religion and commercialism.

The Toy

When searching for older patents with the name Santa Claus, it’s perhaps not surprising that there aren’t loads to choose. The earliest mention of Santa seems to be US Patent 276586, issued on 1 May 1883. Titled ‘Toy’, it shows a device designed to be applied to “pictures of faces or toys having faces”. The patent says it’s for the “amusement of children at Christmas time.”

The Design for Bag

This is another patent from the late 19th century. Issued in 1889 US Patent 19161 was for a bag that resembles a Christmas stocking. On the bag there’s a “pictorial representation of St Nicholas, or Santa Claus, carrying on his back a miscellaneous assemblage of toys.”

These are just a few of the Santa Claus based patents out there. With his ubiquitous popularity, and his commercial potential, it’s safe to expect Santa patents will continue to be filed and granted for years to come.

About Dawn Ellmore Employment

Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.




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