One of the almost-overlooked categories of trademarks is SOUND. Most people don’t realize that a distinctive sound associated with a brand can be trademarked, but like many things “most people” don’t know much about (like particle physics) there is almost always more there than meets the eye. Or the ear, in this case. To date, only 157 sensory trademarks have been registered with the USPTO, but some of them are quite recognizable (at least with a little prompting). Below are a few of the better known sound marks.
2. The well-known NBC chimes
3. The Yahoo yodel
4. The perky “Have a good night’s sleep on us, Mattress Discounters!”
5. AOL’s classic “You’ve got mail!”
6. Easytel’s derivative “You’ve got cash!”
7. The slightly robotic “Hello and welcome to Moviephone!”
8. The Pillsbury Doughboy’s giggle
9. The Looney Tunes theme song
10. Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!”
And lastly, an oldie (ancient, in fact) but my personal favorite of the bunch, the extended play version of the theme to The Lone Ranger series, with a “Hi ho Silver, Away!” and bits from the William Tell Overture.
I am a commercial litigator and intellectual property lawyer in Orange County. Although my practice encompasses a wide variety of business disputes, I have a particular fondness for, and am prone to wax philosophical on, the subjects of copyright and trademark infringement in music, literature, art, and film.