A too-long trademark

25 April 2023

Sound marks, such as jingles, the opening tunes of games and apps, and ringtones, are very popular. But not every attempt to register a sound mark meets with success.

For example, The Football Association Premier League (the organisation behind the Premier League) tried to file a sound mark as a European trademark, but their application was rejected on the grounds that the 43-second-long fragment was simply too long.

Trademarks will not be accepted if they are either too simple or too complicated. A trademark like Kakkmaddafakka (the name of a Norwegian band) is more or less the limit of what is acceptable, as it is still readable and can be memorised. Most people, however, would struggle to memorise a much longer trademark.

This principle also applies to sound marks, as the target audience must be able to perceive such a mark as a trademark. According to the European Trademarks Office consumers will not attach trademark value to such kind of sounds, because they will associate them with background music rather than trademarks or business identifiers. As it lacks any distinctive character, it is unable to function as a trademark.

By the way, the music clip is well worth listening to – perhaps because it is so long.

Listen to the fragment here: https://euipo.europa.eu/trademark/sound/EM500000018338432 

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