Most people can easily identify familiar sounds such as the famous A.R. Rahman composition that is now known as the “Airtel ring tone”. Now, however, an increasing number of companies are seeking to register special sounds. The Trade Marks Registry has recently allowed registration of a sound mark in India, to Allianz AG.
This comes in the wake of the Yahoo!’s yodel registration. Trademarks have traditionally been composed of words, labels, colours, marks, images. Sound marks are regarded as unconventional and the biggest challenge to their registration lies in their incapability to be graphically represented—a precondition to registration.
Tell-tale Sounds: There are other unconventional trademarks such as smell and olfactory marks. In fact, smell marks have already been recognised as trademarks and allowed registration in the US and the UK. “The smell of bitter ale for plights for darts” and “the smell of roses for tyres” are already registered. However, a major hurdle that such marks faced in India, is the requirement of graphical representation.
Patently Clear: The Trade Mark office in India now recognises that the graphical representation of the notes of a sound along with a description is enough to qualify for a registration. “Those who file applications for sound marks must ensure that their representation and description of the mark adequately brings to mind the particular sound and that it is inherently distinctive of the product,” says Rahul Chaudhry, Partner, Lall, Lahiri and Salhotra.
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