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Trademark (Sound Mark) Examples

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Here's an example of Sound Marks that generally should be avoided in a creative endeavor:




Most of these fall into the common sense category but a general rule of thumb is to steer well clear of sounds made popular in jingles and advertisements for commercial products.

When I consider some of these and how simple they are (such as NBC's three note sound mark) I am reminded of just how precarious the road forward can be in establishing recognizable themes that identify specific products or services.


This isn't to say that the three notes from NBC's title cannot be place anywhere else.

It does suggest that if those notes are used to identify another specific product or service we might find ourselves up against an established Trademark.


For example, it might not be wise to open the presentation of all your films with this little ditty:



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I had read somewhere before that the MGM lion's roar had been digitized to create something they could trademark.


I find it curious that the examples for the Lone Ranger are both voiced by William Conrad who only voiced the character for the Filmation TV series in the early '80s.

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They're definitely pushing it on that "Beneficial TOOT TOOT" sound mark.


Several of those are so brief I have to wonder if they would hold up to a legal challenge.



It's important to note that mere usage would likely not constitute a violation of trademark.

It's the identification that is important.

So if you companies sound byte ran, "Animation:Master TOOT TOOT"... that would likely cross the line.


In the case of Mark's use of Lone Ranger that his whole modus operandi is to present the material not as his own but as a send up... a satire or... or a comical reference to a cultural icon.

In my estimation he would in fact be underlining and supporting the trademark by pointing the one to the other.

Now... that's for the trademark... but copyright is something else altogether.

BUT... Mark is well covered there also under fair use with satire etc.


Disclaimer!: My words should be construed solely as opinion. No legal advice is suggested nor shall any be implied.

Consult certified legal counsel for matters pertaining to law. (or hire Martin Hash as IP adviser) :)

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  • 7 months later...

Trivia: lotsa people think NBC's 3 notes - G,E,C - refer to General Electric Corp, which started and owned NBC for a while. The problem is, GE sold NBC right around the time the 3 notes were first used. Dunno if anybody knows for sure, but it's an interesting hypothesis.

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