By: Drew Emerson
What are Soundmarks? According to the T.E.M.P 1202.15, A soundmark is used to identify and distinguish a product of service through audio and must assume a definitive shape or arrangement and create in the hearer’s mind an association of the sound. The method in filing an application for sound marks is first making sure that the mark Commonplace and functional. Commonplace means that the sound mark must be distinguishable and not a sound associated with every day life. Functional means that the sound cannot be a functional aspect of the market in that issuing of the mark would be unfair to other members of the market. For example, Harley Davidson’s unique engine sound was not accepted due to the dispute from Kawasaki and Honda that the mark was functional and too similar to their motorcycle’s engine sound. Additionally, the application must select the sound mark as a sound mark. There needs to be a submission of a digital file as well as a specimen of the mark. Also, there must be a detailed description of the mark.
In 2019 soundmarks are more important than ever in areas like the music industry. Producers in the music industry, especially in the hip-hop segment, uses sound identifiers called taglines. Taglines serve two purposes. First, it protects the producer’s instrumental from being assumed by another producer and sold as their product. Secondly, it serves as an identifier of the quality of the instrumental and subsequently the quality of the overall production of the song. Whether it’s “Daytrip took it to ten” or “Zaytoven”, when you hear these tags at the beginning of songs you know that there are high chances that you are listening to a hit. Record labels and studios alike have recently began to include clauses in contracts with producers that give permissive use to any sounds fonts or wav. Files that are used by the producers in their establishment. These clauses create a glaring problem for producers who use taglines. Producers who use any unique indication to identify their product could be copied and used to perpetuate the quality of their brand on products that are not theirs. It is for this reason why education about soundmarks is imperative, especially in the music industry.