Sonogram + MP3 = Trademark Registration

From: 23/11/07

A sound can be registered as a trade mark if it can be written in musical notation. But a sound like Tarzan's yell can also be registered if a graphical representation is accompanied by an MP3 file, according to Europe's trade mark registry.

I very nearly blogged about the whole Tarzan-yell trademark issue when I first came across the story a few weeks ago. Registration of the sound by way of Sonogram was rejected, I thought, on logical grounds following well-established principles of TM law. This was so in spite of the accompanying guidance: ‘sustain, followed by ululation, followed by sustain, but at a higher frequency, followed by ululation, followed by sustain at the starting frequency…" Lot of help, that is.

In 2005, however, a crucial development occurred in this area of TM law. Since then, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) can register sounds represented graphically by way of a sonogram AND an mp3 file. So there you go.

Given that Tarzan’s yell is now capable of being registered and recorded as the sound itself (as distinct from musical notation) it’s perhaps only a matter of time before other jungle creatures follow suit. Maybe Janice Dickinson will seek TM protection for her now infamous primeval phrase ‘OH MAAANNNN!’ from the deep dark depths of the Australian jungle.


  1. Dont forget that Pongs can be Tm'd too!!

  2. Yep, I've recently heard that Janice Dickinson has applied to TM the phrase, "it smelt like dirty farts in there".


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