Christmas is coming, and there have been hints that snow may appear in certain areas.  That means snowmen!  We thought it would be fun to see what IP may be associated with snowmen to show that Intellectual Property (IP) can be found in every area of life.


The snowman has inspired creativity in those with an inventive bent to make the building of snowmen easier and to improve the quality of the snowmen that are built; however, whilst a search of Espacenet shows that many have attempted to patent kits for, and methods of, making or decorating snowmen, only a select few have been successful.

In 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to a snowman kit for making a snowman with lifelike features.  The kit includes a bowl-shaped base structure for receiving a bottom portion of a snowball while leaving an upper portion of the snowball exposed above the structure; hollow leg structures affixed to the base bowl, and a foot structure affixed to each leg structure.

Fear not those who will have no snow this Christmas – US patent 7,178,342 discloses an artificial snowman system to allow a user to enjoy a snowman in climates that may not support snow.  This not only takes the shape of your typical friendly snowy friend; it incorporates a refrigeration system to freeze the moisture in the air to provide the assembly with the appearance of being made of snow

And in an interesting twist, patents have not only been granted relating to the snowman as we know it.  The Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration granted a patent to snowman-shaped Janus particles in 2020.  Janus particles are composite micro- or nanoscale artificial objects having multiple parts with distinct chemical or physical properties and these have a hydrophilic silica portion and a hydrophobic ethylene glycol dimethacrylate/polybutyl acrylate portion.  This is not the only snowman-shaped chemical material to be granted by CNIPA, but we feel one example is more than enough this festive season.


If you are of a certain age, you will not have had a Christmas go past without some reference to Aled Jones singing ‘I’m Walking in the Air’, which accompanied the animated film ‘The Snowman’.  Then there are other Christmas songs which reference these wintery figures, such as ‘O I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ and ‘Walking in the Winter Wonderland’ and, of course, one of the most popular Christmas songs ‘Frosty the Snowman’.  All of these artistic works are imbued with copyright. Copyright is an automatic right which comes into existence upon the creation of any artistic or literary work and which, for music and lyrics, lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which its creator dies.

Trade Marks

Snowmen are popular images to evoke when promoting a brand.  The use of the word SNOWMAN or images of said figures as an identifier of a particular brand, i.e., as a trade mark, has been widespread through the years.  A cursory look at the UK, Irish, and European Union, trade mark registers, reveals several past and present registrations for the word ‘snowman’ protecting this word in connection with goods ranging from stationery to tobacco, dairy products to automobiles to computer hardware.

Images of snowmen are also prevalent on the trade mark registers, from Pixar’s covering, among other things, computer software, typewriters, games, playthings, advertising and education, which was used in connection with cleaning utensils, and a combination of word and image for use on clothing.

A couple of years ago, we published an article claiming that if necessity is the mother of invention, then Christmas is its Uncle ; however, as can be seen from the above, even the most humble of activities can inspire creativity and result in the creation of Intellectual Property.

Have you been inspired to invent or improve something this year? Does your business have an identifying sign that should be registered as a trade mark?  If you need assistance in protecting the results of your creativity and ingenuity, why not make an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys, any of whom would be happy to help you navigate this complex area?


Cherrie Stewart, Chartered Trade Mark Attorney & Dr. Isabel Meenan, European and Chartered Patent Attorney