North Pole (AP—Arctic Press)  Santa Claus is coming to town. And he’s stopping at the courthouse.

Santa Claus has filed a lawsuit against virtually every major manufacturer, retailer and media outlet, claiming unauthorized use of image. The suit seeks unspecified damages for instances dating back more than a hundred years.

“Santa is a globally recognized icon and thousands of companies have unfairly used his image to promote their products and services,” declared Paul E. Ester, Santa’s attorney. “Santa is entitled to control over how his image is used as well as compensation for the use of his image.”

“It’s not really about the money,” explained Santa at a press conference. “Although heaven knows my expenses keep climbing—what with the escalating costs of raw materials, ever-increasing demands by the elves union, and don’t even get me started on the skyrocketing price of Reindeer Chow.”

“No,” continued Santa, “it’s more that I’d like some say in how people portray me. Some of the commercials I’ve seen lately are just downright embarrassing.”

Santa Claus—or Kris Kringle, as he’s also known—is the world’s best-known and most-loved celebrity, after Oprah. His favorability ratings have remained high in good times and bad, making him a popular choice for businesses who want to link their brand to his cachet in an effort to boost sales. As a result, thousands of companies around the world have used his image for promotional purposes through the years.

“And not one of them,” points out Ester, “has ever asked permission, let alone paid a cent in royalties.”

An executive at a major manufacturing company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of being placed on the “naughty” list, stated, “We don’t believe the suit has any merit. Santa is a public figure and as such, falls into the “fair use” exception.”

An executive for a major discount retailing chain, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, went further, “Santa should be paying all of us. The reason he’s such a huge global brand is because he’s gotten billions of dollars in free publicity over the years.”

Santa’s attorney disagrees. “My client has been the basis of thousands of books, movies, TV shows, ad campaigns, toys, greeting cards and more. Everybody is making money off of Santa’s image but Santa.”

“What it comes down to,” Ester argued, “is fairness.”

Ester declined to comment on whether or not Jesus was considering a similar lawsuit.