Sound Trademark

Sound Trademark

14 May, 2021

Sound mark or Sound trade mark is a mark where sound performs the function of source identifier of goods or services originating from an entity. These can be broadly divided into two categories of marks 1) A musical note that can be associated with product i.e. the Britannia Jungle “Ting-Ting–Ti–Ting” under Application No. 1904243 and/or 2) Sound of Product itself which is distinctive enough to be associated with the product i.e. Enfiled “Thump” Engine Sound is registered as trademark under application no. 3044833.

The first sound mark which was registered with the Indian Trademark Office, was the “Yahoo yodel” under application no. 1270407. Previously, the procedure for filing such applications for sound mark was not provided or given. With the enforcement of the Trade Mark Rules, 2017, a new boost was provided to the sound trademark applications, which was earlier not in vogue during the erstwhile Rules of 2002. The Applicants previously had to provide a graphical representation or spell out the tune of the sound which is evident from with many trademark applications for sound mark filed at that time.

Rule 26 of The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 provides for the application of a sound mark and also the compliances to be made with it:
The new rule provides for the Applicant to submit reproduction of the sound in MP3 format “not exceeding thirty seconds’ length recorded on a medium which allows for easy and clearly audible replaying accompanied with a graphical representation of its notations”.

The draft “Manual of Trade Marks” also envisages that ‘A trademark may consist of a sound and represented graphically by a series of musical notes with or without words’ and ‘graphic representation requirements are met by representation of the sign by a musical stave divided into measures and showing, in particular, a clef, musical notes and rests, indicating relative value, and sharps, flats and naturals (accidentals)’ (Paragraph 12.2.5 of the “Manual of Trademark”).

The provisions require the sound mark to be represented with musical notes, with or without words. However, in certain cases like for the protection of the clicking sound made by the “Zippo lighter” when it is open and lit (e.g. sound of click of a lighter), the Trade Marks Registry has even admitted representation of such sound marks through spectrogram and sonogram waves under application no. 3995841. 

Please find the representation given herein below: -

Some of the most interesting sound marks registered in India are:

  • Rues whistle (Hunger Games) (represented by musical notations) under application no. 2207391 represented as  

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