China approves its first sound mark

A sound mark is a distinct sound or melody that has been graphically represented in musical notation.

Sound marks are classed as non-conventional trademarks. They have the same function as word or figurative marks but they generally more difficult to register. However, the protection of these marks is much lower than that of traditional marks as they are not available to register with every trademark office around the world and as they have to meet local requirements.

According to gbTimes China has recently approved its first sound trademark  for the signature melody of China Radio International.  

The state-owned radio station, whose headquarters are in Beijing, broadcasts programmes covering the news, politics, culture, technology, the economy and science. Of the 1,520 hours of programs that they broadcast each day from their offices around the world, 24 of these hours are broadcasted in English.

China’s Trademark Law was revised in 2013 to allow the registration of sound trademarks.

Despite their difficulty in being successfully registered, sound marks are gradually becoming more popular as a form of intellectual property protection. In 1994, in order to differentiate their brand from others in the marketplace, Harley Davidson decided to file a trademark for the sound of their engine. In this way a customer could fully distinguish their brand from their competitors at every level. Other companies that have registered sound marks are MGM studios Inc. with their Lion’s roar, Lions Gate Entertainment with Rue’s whistle from The Mockingjay (part of The Hunger Games trilogy) and the siren of the US Federal Signal Corporation’s fire engine.

It has already been stated that registering a non-conventional trademark is generally more complex than filing for a traditional trademark but if you did want one, how should you go about registering it? In general trademark offices have very little or no legislation for these types of marks which is one of the reasons why it can be more difficult to obtain one. Therefore it is advisable to contact your local trademark office in order to determine their exact requirements before you file for your trademark.

A sound mark can be a real asset to your company as, like any trademark, it can act as a source indicator for your product whereby customers associate your chosen sound with your brand.

For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website, Our unique database of trademarks for sale or license could save you time and help protect your brand.