Sound Trademarks and their Registration in India

BlogTrademark    April 6, 2022
Sound Trademarks and their Registration in India Posted On

Sound trademarks are widely recognized in developed nations like the United States, and their knowledge is now rapidly growing in developing nations like India. In India, a sound that can be graphically represented by a succession of musical notes with or without words can obtain Trademark Protection. Under the Indian Trade Marks Act of 1999, if a sound is or has become a distinctive or unique symbol associated with one undertaking, it will be eligible for obtaining Trademark Registration. In simple terms, for a sound mark to be registered as a trademark, an average customer must be able to perceive the sound as being associated with a specific service or product. This article shall discuss the foundations of sound trademark registrations in India while giving examples of widely known sounds trademarks.

Understanding Sound Trademarks with Examples

A sound trademark is one in which sounds perform the trademark function of uniquely identifying the commercial origin of products and services. Over the past few years, a sound mark has become widely recognized as a trademark in different industries and markets. A sound can undoubtedly help identify the origin or source of a product or service.

In 2008, India received its first-ever sound trademark registration from the American web services provider, Yahoo Inc. The sound trademark consisted of a human voice yodeling Yahoo. ICICI Bank, the leading private sector bank and financial services provider in India, was the first-ever Indian company to register a sound mark as a trademark. At a later stage, India adopted the provisions of the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) and came up with the Trademark Rules of 2017. Section 26 of the Trademark Rules, 2017 stipulates how a sound mark should be registered as a trademark. Although sounds were never prohibited by law from obtaining trademark protection before the introduction of the Trademark Rules, 2017, there was no prescribed formula in which a sound mark could be registered.

Furthermore, the sound should not be more than 30 seconds in duration and should consist of a graphical depiction of the sound notations. Before sound marking, the applicants had to register sound marks as trademarks by using graphical representation or typing out the melody.

Some of the other registered sound trademarks in India include:

  • National Stock Exchange (Theme song)
  • Britannia Industries (Four note bell sound)
  • Nokia (Guitar notes while turning on the device)
  • Netflix (Ta-dum sound)
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs (The tarzan yell by its toy action figure)

Advantages of Registering a Sound Trademark 

The prime advantage of registering a sound trademark is exclusivity. It implies that you, as the trademark owner, shall be the only one in the nation to launch or sell products or services under the said trademark or brand name. Additionally, the brand is what a customer links with the company. It is also how the public at large perceives the situation. If you have a strong sound trademark, you own the exclusive right to sue any individual or third party infringing upon your Trademark Rights. You can initiate legal proceedings in court if a third party or individual uses your sound trademark without obtaining your permission.

Establishing a company’s trademark or brand name at a pretty early stage is crucial for its future growth and success. Without any second thoughts, a strong legal foundation on which you may raise the standing of your company in the industry puts forward a brilliant and exceptional brand name that is assured by trademark registration. Such advantages shall help you and your company in creating a strong impression in the present highly competitive global business environment.

Vital Points of Consideration before Registering a Sound Trademark

It is imperative to have the final version of your sound mark in place before going ahead with trademark registration. The same shall have a positive impact on your already existing and potential customers and reflect the image that you are looking forward to projecting. After confirming the initial prototypes of your sound mark, the next step involves testing the audio recordings with focus groups. You can conduct an audio touchpoint analysis to determine the points where your audio recording shall come into contact with your customers. Moreover, you need to consider whether the sound should be consistent across all touchpoints or custom-tailored to fulfill the diverse needs.

Sound Trademark Registration Procedure in India

There is no definition of a sound trademark in the Indian Trade Marks Act of 1999. It only states that a mark must be represented visually to obtain trademark protection. Consequently, a sound that is graphically represented by a succession of musical notes with or without words may be safeguarded under the Act.

The Trademark Rules of 2017 does, however, acknowledge sound as a trademark category (non-conventional trademarks), as already mentioned above. As a result of the Rules’ recognition of sound trademarks, brands and businesses now have more exclusivity for their promotional and marketing tactics to entice, attract, and appeal the customers in the ongoing competitive world.

For registering a sound trademark in India, there are three requirements, as already mentioned above, including:

  • The Trademark Application must specify that the mark to be registered as a trademark is a sound mark;
  • The sound mark must be submitted in an MP3 format in no longer than 30 seconds in length; and
  • The application must include a graphical depiction of the sound mark in the form of musical notations.

What goes without saying in this scenario as well is that even for sound trademarks, the minimum standards of trademark registration need to be fulfilled. To be specific, the sound in question must be distinct. Remember, generic sounds don’t meet the eligibility criteria of trademark registration.

Trademark applications for a sound mark are processed in the same way with the Indian Trade Marks Registry as the other trademark applications submitted. Apart from all the general details required, including the applicant’s name, address, contact info, the legal status of the applicant’s entity (if any), class of the goods or services, specification of the goods or services, and so on, the date of the sound mark’s first use is to be mentioned. Kindly note that if you can submit any documentation evidence to show the use of the sound mark at the time of filing the trademark application, the situation will be in your favor since then the distinctive element of the sound mark can reasonably be proven through acquired distinctiveness, i.e., by way of the use of the sound mark.

It is essential to note that sound trademark registrations have a specific nature, due to which the trademark applications for sounds are investigated more closely (compared to other marks) during the further steps in the trademark registration process. However, if the said trademark application complies well with all the legal requirements and conditions, it will be duly considered, eventually leading to the trademark registration of the sound mark. The steps for publication, opposition, and registration are the same as they are for any other trademark application. ✅ For more visit:

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