Trademarks are not only words or logos, but can come in many other forms, including sounds. In the words of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the case In re Gen. Electric Broad. Co., 199 USPQ 560, 563 (TTAB 1978), sounds can function as trademarks “in those situations where they assume a definitive shape or arrangement and are used in such a manner so as to create in the hearer’s mind an association of the sound with a service [or a good].” The process of securing a sound mark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) is a bit different than the process for securing other more traditional marks. Here we offer five considerations that may make the application process a bit more harmonious for you and your client.
If you want to take a look at some examples of successfully-registered sound marks, here are some fairly well-known ones:
Not all sounds have to be as well-known as those listed above to function as trademarks. So if that sound your customers have been hearing makes them think of your company, then it may be time to consider trying to obtain a federal registration.