Trademarks Rock! (Sound marks in Canada)

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When you think of some of the most valuable trade-marks in the world, you probably think of marks like COCA-COLA, MICROSOFT and IBM. You might also think of some logos, such as McDonalds’ Golden Arches or Nike’s Swoosh design. But what about the Intel Inside tune, or the Harlem Globetrotters’ Sweet Georgia Brown theme, or Nokia’s distinctive ring tone? Are these protected under trade-mark law?

The short answer is that sound marks are protected by the common law if their owners can prove: (a) there is goodwill in the marks (i.e., the marks have developed a reputation), (b) a third party’s use of a similar mark is deceiving the public, and (c) the third party’s use of the marks is causing damage to the owner.

By Chris Bennett, Davis LLP, cbennett@davis.ca

Originally published in the Lawyers Weekly, November 21, 2008

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Chris Bennett, Davis LLP | Attorney Advertising

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