Can you Trademark a Sound in India?

With the introduction of Trademark Rules, 2017 a sound trademark registration in India becomes easier. The soundmark can comprise a series of musical notes, words and sound graphics. The first Sound Mark to be registered in India was Yahoo yodel followed by Nokia tune.

Traditionally only words, logos, symbols can be registered as a trademark. To obtain the TM protection for the non-conventional marks, the two greatest protection, i.e. the distinctiveness and the graphical representation had to overcome. Now the following non- conventional trademarks (non-traditional signs) can also register in India:

  • Pantone/color
  • Sound
  • Smell

What is a sound trademark?

A sound is also a type of trademark and it can be registered in India. A musical composition, a series of musical notes (with or without words) can get the protection under the Trademark Act. However, it is one of the most difficult to register as it needs a clear, unique, distinctive graphical representation to get registered. Like other assets similarly, once you have your sound mark with appropriate graphical representation, you can register the sound as a trademark for your brand.

What are the features and information required to obtain the sound trademark registration?

Sound mark needs to be distinctive enough to make the product or service stand out from the existing market. The following features can be considered while creating a sound logo:

  • Research about any existing sound marks to help you design a sound which is original and relevant to the brand.
  • Conduct an analysis of the notes to connect with the customers.
  • Once the research and analysis have been done, you can start working on the audio by compiling the texture, rhythm, harmony and melody that gives you a sense of unique brand value.
  • The sound must be distinctively represented with the graphic representation.

What sounds cannot be accepted for registration as a trademark?

The following sounds incapable of registering as a trademark in India:

  • A complete song and lengthy piece of audio
  • A simple piece of music with one or two notes
  • Well known music
  • Nursery rhymes (if goods/services aimed at children)

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