Nintendo applies for sound mark
Trademarks are more than just names and logos – they can also be slogans, colors, or, as the headline implies, sounds.
In the EU, it is a requirement that a trademark can be reproduced graphically, and for sound marks it is therefore necessary to write down the sound – for example on node form – and submit it to the European trademark office. This is also the reason why scent marks or the sound of a wave crashing cannot be accepted, as it is not possible to reproduce such marks graphically.
In other countries, however, there is no demand for a graphical reproduction – for example in the US, where applicants only need to establish that the consumers associate the sound with the particular brand. Metro Goldwyn Mayer thus succeeded in trademarking the sound of the roaring lion from their logo – meanwhile, Harley Davidson had to admit defeat in registering the sound of a revving Harley Davidson engine after battling with the trademark office for 6 years.
There are a number of examples of registered sound marks, each of which most consumers will no doubt be familiar with. Take the fanfare from 20th Century Fox, the Nokia ringtone, the “I’m lovin’ it” jingle from McDonald’s, the start-up sound on a Mac computer – yes, even Tarzan’s iconic jungle roar.
The newest addition to the sound mark family comes from the game company Nintendo – although the sound itself is an old stager. It origins from the classic game Super Mario Bros and is known as “the coin sound” – the sound that is played when Mario picks op a coin in the game.
The game was released back in the 80’s, and the sound is without a doubt one of the most iconic sounds inthe gaming industry, but Nintendo has not sought trademark protection until now – more than 30 years later.
Given the iconic status of “the coin sound”, and the fact that it can easily be written down on node form, there should be nothing standing in the way of Nintendo’s registration, and it is therefore only a matter of time before they obtain official protection.
Nintendo is known for being very attentive to their trademark rights, and with their new sound mark registration in hand, they can certainly put an end to all the wrongful use of their sound. Whether Nintendo will actually take legal steps towards anyone using their mark is hard to tell, but game developers should certainly think twice before using “the coin sound” in the future.
By Mia Storm