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A sound trademark or sound mark is a distinctive sound used to identify the goods or services of a person or organization. While a sound trademark is usually a short melody or sequence of sounds, it may also be a non-musical distinctive sound, such as the roar of a lion. To be effective, a sound trademark needs to be unique and memorable. It is the acoustic equivalent to a visual logo or slogan.
On March 28, 2012, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) announced that it is now accepting applications for registration of sound trademarks.
Prior to this announcement, CIPO refused all trademark applications consisting only of sounds. The change was the long awaited result of the application by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lion Corp. (“MGM”) to register its distinctive roaring lion sound as a trademark in Canada. When MGM initially applied for the sound-only trademark in 1992, this application was refused, and it was only on March 1, 2012 that the Federal Court of Canada issued a consent order directing that the MGM sound trademark be approved.
As of mid-June, 2012, there were six more sound trademark applications in the Canadian Trademark system, including the Intel Corporation sound and the Toys “R” Us jingle. It is expected that more and more companies will apply to register sound trademarks in Canada.
To hear the MGM lion roar, or the other sound trademarks which are currently making their way through the Canadian Trademark process, visit the sound trademark applications in the CIPO Sound Marks database.