You may be surprised to know that SANTA CLAUS is a trademark, but it is. Father Christmas Ltd., a British company and the proud owner of www.santa-claus.com, also owns the rights to sell Santa Claus merchandise in the United States. Of course, it's not an exclusive license, since Santa has been around since the days of jolly St. Nick, but one hardly expects a trademark to issue on a man who is such a public -- nay, mythological -- figure. Santa Claus as we know him today is the end-product of neo-Darwinian evolution, a marriage of disparate elements such as Odin leading the fey on the Wild Hunt . . .