What does the thought of holiday cheer, polar bears, and soda bring to mind for you? For many, the answer is Coca-Cola because the brand has used these iconic images for many years in its advertising. Let’s dive into their IP-related association. 

Coca-Cola’s Primary Trademarks 

Before we consider the Coca-Cola company’s trademarks, we should first baseline what a trademark is: “A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. It’s how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors.” 

Additionally, trademarks must be assigned a particular class, which indicates the good or service for which the mark is associated. 

Coca-Cola’s logo is—and has been—an integral part of their brand.To protect it, the company has obtained dozens of trademarks, including several “Coca-Cola” word trademarks in Class 032, which is the class for non-alcoholic beverages and carbonated soft drinks. For example, serial number 70022406, filed in May of 1892, contains the famous scripted “Coca-Cola” words.  

Interestingly, the Coca-Cola bottle itself is also trademarked. It is unusual for shapes to be trademarked, but the company argued the bottle was distinctive enough to be closely associated with the product. The trademark was granted in 1961. 

Coca Cola’s Version of Santa Claus 

The image of Santa Claus in his red suit, laughing joyfully, was not the original depiction of the beloved Christmas icon; however, in 1931, artist Haddon Sundblom was hired by Coca-Cola to create advertising with a version of Santa Claus. The result was the red-suited, seemingly warm-hearted Santa Claus, which is often conjured up in people’s minds at the first thought of Christmas. Coca-Cola has used these images in advertising for many years—if you stop in a local antique shop, you are likely to find collectibles with the Coca-Cola Santa image.

Santa Claus himself dates back to the 17th century, and even farther back for St. Nicholas. As such, he generally isn’t protected by copyright or trademark; however, Santa Claus–related products and services can still be trademarked. It comes as no surprise that Coca-Cola has trademarked its version of Santa Claus (serial number 78196491), meaning that jolly, Coca-Cola–drinking Santa Claus is affiliated with products such as snow globes, cookie jars, ornaments, playing cards, and electric trains.  

Animated Polar Bears 

It is hard not to get the warm fuzzies when seeing holiday commercials with animated polar bears since many of us grew up with these Coca-Cola advertisements. In fact, the company began using the bears in 1922. The first ad was French and featured a polar bear giving a smiling sun a drink of Coca-Cola. Many years later, the company adopted the slogan “Always Coca Cola,” which was trademarked in July 1993 and subsequently used extensively with the polar bears. There is a famous ad called “Northern Lights,” which featured a group of the bears observing the sky together and drinking Coca-Cola. Another ad for Christmas 1993 featured a family of bears working together to get a tree up a hill and are rewarded with Coca-Cola for their hard work.  

Coca-Cola has even merchandise with the beloved polar bears, which means there are trademarks tied to the goods sold. In searching the company’s marks, one trademark stood out in particular–something called “Arctic Home.” This mark was registered in June of 2012, and appeared to be tied to a polar bear conservation campaign. The company recognized the population of polar bears was declining and spearheaded a campaign, complete with new polar bear ads, to raise money and awareness to their plight. Coca-Cola also produced white Coca-Cola cans, which appeared to feature the Arctic Home wording. This mark is no longer active as the campaign concluded in 2012. 

Companies change advertising strategies frequently, and often need to trademark new slogans or designs; however, Coca-Cola seems to have found IP longevity. Its Christmas-related goods have generated warmth for decades and will continue to do so Merry trademark renewals to them, and may all find such longevity!


The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit 20mm.org.