China has its first sound mark lawsuit

According to Chofn Intellectual Property, Tencent, a Chinese technology company recently filed a lawsuit against the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) for refusing to grant the registration of their sound mark. The mark, “DiDiDiDiDiDi” was filed for in May of 2014 and represents that sound of a message being received on their Tencent QQ application.

Upon the mark being refused, Tencent decided to appeal the decision however their appeal was rejected by TRAB who stated that the sound is not distinct enough to act as a source indicator although the QQ software’s existence is known to many consumers.

Following this outcome the Chinese company filed a lawsuit against TRAB and the decision was passed to the Beijing IP Court. They argued that the public was familiar with the sound that they wished to file a mark for and that upon hearing it they immediately associated it with their brand. Furthermore, they stressed the fact that company has become well-known to the Chinese public since its incorporation in 1998 and that many people use their messaging app.

We will have to wait to hear the outcome of this case.

China’s Trademark Law was revised in 2013 to allow the registration of sound trademarks.  Their first soundmark was recently registered for the signature melody of China Radio International.  

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.