The non-traditional Trade Mark Archives -Sound Marks

By Dr. Ralf Sieckmann, Patent Attorney


This type of trade marks is the most circulated one among the non-traditional types, in the US these trade marks have been registersd since the  50th and in Europe after the installing of the Comunity trademark directive by the EC member states in the 90th. Final refusal of this type of trade mark is rather unusual.

Under item Sound Marks I, Sound Marks DE 2005, Sound Marks DE 2006 and Sound Marks DE 2007 you'll find German Trade Mark Registrations with more than 180 entries  even more frequent than in the U.S..

Highlights in  German trade mark registrations are short jingles, sonagrams representing noises, but also complex musical notations, which representation in the Trade marks Journal of the GPTO does not fullfill the new requirements of the ECJ. For the sake of illustration we refer to trade mark Registration No. 395 16 056 and 396 00 853, registered for slot-mashines. Obviously the End-users will need a study in physics and specialist curses in acoustics and / or a musical study to understand and,  hopefully, to repeat this marks. This kind of representation using sonagrams is not clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible and objective in accordance with the ECJ definition. 

Unter item Sound Marks II, Sound Marks Update 2005, Sound Marks Update 2006 and Sound Marks Update 2007 you'll find registrations / applications of sound trade marks from  Australia, the Community Trade Mark Office, from the US-PTO and from the international Bureau of  WIPO.

As you can see, every trade mark to be registered with the US-PTO which can not be represented graphically [No Drawing] must comprise a description of the sound sequence or of the scent. Wether this is, in deed, a   true definition, could be realised by the following description of a complex sound mark registration in int. Class 28, which reads as follows:

The mark is a yell consisting of a series of approximately ten sounds, alternating between the chest and falsetto registers of the voice, as follow -
1) a semi-long sound in the chest register,
2) a short sound up an interval of one octave plus a fifth from the preceding sound,
3) a short sound down a Major 3rd from the preceding sound,
4) a short sound up a Major 3rd from the preceding sound,
5) a long sound down one octave plus a Major 3rd from the preceding sound,
6) a short sound up one octave from the preceding sound,
7) a short sound up a Major 3rd from the preceding sound,
8) a short sound down a Major 3rd from the preceding sound,
9) a short sound up a Major 3rd from the preceding sound,
10) a long sound down an octave plus a fifth from the preceding sound.

Touch this line  to have a realistic impression on the above verbal sound mark definition

Time histories representing the rhythm of a sound scientifically referred to as sonagram are soldom used to define sound marks but have been used in the prosecution of the Harley-Davidson Sound mark defining the corresponding motor-bike exhaust sound.

This application has been withdrawn in 2000 after years of opposition.

Touch this line to have an impression on the former Harley-Davidson Sound Mark application

In the official data base Romarin from WIPO you'll find more than 10 hits, but only three of these  relate to true jingle using musical notations. The remainder seems to be errors either due to wrong definition in the official register or due the wrong editorial work made by the publisher. In this respect and strange enough the original slogan of German Trade Mark Registration No 395 26 716: "Auf diese Steine können Sie bauen…" has been converted into a sound mark under International Registration No 659 177 (ROMARIN Issue 12/2002).



Last update March 1, 2007/ WI, 11:15 pm
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