Trademark Protection for Sound Mark

In India, a sound that is visually represented by a succession of musical notes, with or without the addition of words, may qualify for protection under the country's Trademark Act.

Whether or not a sound can be registered as a trademark under the Trademark Act depends on whether or not the sound is already or has the potential to become a distinctive sign linked with a single enterprise. Therefore, in order to register a sound trademark, it is necessary for the typical customer to identify the sound as being linked with a certain company's offerings, whether those offerings be a service or a product.

Sound Mark Recognition in India

With the explicit recognition of sound as a trademark in the fresh Trade Marks Rules 2017 that were issued on March 6, 2017, businesses can now enjoy greater exclusivity for their musical or cacophonic branding and marketing strategies to entice, attract, and appeal to consumers in today's highly disruptive market. This is especially true in light of the fact that the rules were issued on March 6, 2017.

The trademark laws that were updated in 2017 introduced a few changes to the registration procedure, but the most important change was to make it less difficult for companies to submit an application for the registration of a powerful brand.

If sound marks are distinctive and are able to serve the function of trademarks, which is to exclusively identify and associate the goods and/or services as coming from a specific undertaking, also known as a source identifier, then they are eligible to be registered as trademarks and are entitled to receive complete legal protection under the Trademarks Law. This is provided that the sound marks in question are distinctive.

There have been a lot of sound marks that have been filed in India in the past, such as the Yahoo yodel and the ICICI Bank corporate chink. The first sound markings to be registered in the name of an Indian organisation were both the former and the later of these two phrases. The former was the first sound mark in India to receive registration after it was submitted for consideration.

Advantages of Registration of Sound mark as Trademark

The benefits of having a strong trademark include protecting your brand, which in this context refers to what the customer thinks of when they think of your company as a whole. The song or music that is associated with a corporation is the subject of the sound trademark's protection.

  • The most important benefit of having a valid trademark registration is that it entitles you to exclusive rights to the mark, making you the only person in the country who is permitted to sell or distribute products or services under the same name brand as your business.

  • The primary advantage that comes with registering a brand is increased exclusivity: You are the only person in the country who is allowed to promote or sell products or services under the same brand name, thus you have the exclusive right to do so. The early development of the company's brand is one of the most important factors influencing the company's future prospects for growth and success

  • It is possible for your business to significantly improve its standing in the industry by establishing a solid legal foundation and registering its trademarks to receive legal protection for their use. In the highly competitive and rapidly changing landscape of the current business world, these benefits can help you and your organisation stand out.

  • Consumers have a favourable reaction to the sound, jingle, or music associated with a firm, which also serves as a representation of the image of the brand. This helps to build the company's reputation. Consumers are more likely to recall a brand's jingle or sound, which in turn boosts the attractiveness of the firm.

  • Developing the sonic signature: Before commencing the process of registering a sound mark, it is essential to develop the definitive version of the sound mark. It has a positive impact on customers and exemplifies the image you want people to have of your company. After the early prototypes have been tested and found to be satisfactory, it will be best to put the audio recording through the rigours of focus group testing.

An Itemized Inventory of a Sound Mark

It includes −

  • It is necessary to provide a description of the sound, which may be done, for instance, by listening to the notes it makes or by describing the sound's aural counterpart, which can include the noise of an animal.

  • In the application for a trademark, it must be made abundantly apparent that the application is intended for the registration of a sound mark in India.

  • An electronic sound recording in the form of an MP3 file, the duration of which must not exceed thirty seconds; registrations submitted in any other format will not be accepted.

  • The sound has to be graphically represented in some kind of design or representation, such a waveform or a note sheet with precise information about where the notes are laying.

The Steps Involved in the Registration of a Sound Trademark in India

The Indian Trademarks Act, 1999 (the "Act") does not include a definition for a sound trademark. If a company's product has distinctive music and is enjoyed by the general public, registering the sound mark is the best way to avoid infringement and protect the company's intellectual property. In order to register a sound trademark in India, you will need to complete the processes that are outlined in the following paragraphs −

  • Before a sound mark may be registered, the applicant is responsible for proving the "Factual Distinctiveness of the Sound." This must be done for each and every sound mark.

  • If the company wants to register its sound mark, it is required to make an application to the office of the trademark registrar by filling form TM A, which may be found on the IP India webpage.

  • The applicant must specify that the mark in this application is a sound mark; if they do not, it will be presumed that the applicant is referring to another mark or device mark.

  • The graphic representation of the sign should be a musical notation that supports the sound mark. This notation should describe the relative value of the sign as well as any sharps or flats that may be present.

  • The previously indicated data must now be included in an mp3 file with a sound mark that has a length of no more than 30 seconds on any medium. It makes it easier for the registrar to repeatedly reproduce the sound throughout the process of conducting a comprehensive examination.

  • In the event that the registrar is unsatisfied with the sound mark, they may request more information and supporting documentation from the applicant.

  • The sound mark will also be registered and protected if it possesses a unique quality and does not overlap in any way with any other sound markings that are currently in use.

The Necessary Paperwork to Obtain a Trademark Registration for a Sound Mark

In order to complete the sound mark registration process in India, the following papers are required −

  • Including the Applicant's Name and Address.

  • In the case of a Partnership firm, the LLP designation should be followed by the firm's name followed by each partner's name.

  • In the event that the application is going to be processed by an Attorney, a signed power of attorney from the applicant is required.

  • In the event of a small business, you will need an Udhyam Aadhar or MSME certificate, and in the case of a new business, you will need a DIPP certificate. This will allow you to get a fee waiver from the government.

  • Representation of the sound mark both verbally and graphically.

Illustrations of Some Sound Trademarks of India

The following is a list of some instances of sound trademarks that have been registered in India −

  • The sounds of trumpets, violins, and other percussion instruments may be heard on the soundtrack for Twentieth Century Fox.

  • The sound that is commonly referred to as the "Yodel of Yahoo" is the voice that says "Yahoo."

  • The jingle music used for corporate purposes by ICICI bank.

  • The Nokia mobile phone makes a sound similar to a guitar whenever it is turned on.

  • A.R. Rahman is the one who produced the ringtone for Airtel.

  • The tolling of the four bells that belong to Britannia Industries.

  • The "Jing-a-ling" sound in the advertisement for Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate.

  • The "Ding Dong" sound in the advertisement for Tata Sky.

  • The "Sona, Sona, Sona" jingle in the advertisement for Sona Roti.

  • The "Bajaj" tune used in Bajaj's advertisements and television commercials.

  • The "Barista" tune used in Barista's advertisements and television commercials.


Unquestionably, the legal framework that governs such non-traditional trademarks will grow and develop as a direct result of the considerable incentive for brand building that is present in this sector of the economy. There is a long and varied history of sound mark trademarks having both triumphs and failures in the marketplace.


Q1. Are Sound Copyrighted or Trademarked?

Ans. It depends as sound can be both copyrighted and trademarked.

Copyright is a form of legal protection that applies to original works of authorship, such as music, sound recordings, and audio-visual works. Copyright gives the creator of a work the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and perform the work, among other rights.

Trademark, on the other hand, is a form of legal protection that applies to distinctive signs, logos, and symbols used to identify and distinguish a company's goods or services from those of other companies. A sound mark is a type of trademark that consists of a distinctive sound or sequence of sounds that can be used to identify a particular product or service.

Likewise, a sound recording of a song, for example, would be copyrighted by the songwriter/composer, and the sound of the jingle or a specific melody used by a company would be trademarked as a sound mark.

Q2. Does the trademark include a Sound Mark?

Ans. Yes, a trademark can include a sound mark as well. A sound mark can be fit into the category of trademark that consists of a distinctive sound or sequence of sounds that can be used to identify a particular product or service. Sound marks are used to distinguish a company's goods or services from those of other companies. They are registered with the relevant trademark office, such as the Indian Trade Marks Office, and are protected under trademark law. It is important to note that the sound must be able to be represented graphically, it could be recorded or written in musical notation.

Updated on: 14-Feb-2023


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