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Sound marks: an unfamiliar perspective in the books of Indian trademark history

Authored By- Gauhar Alam

Keywords #sound marks #intellectual #products #Registration #Non-Conventional


With the advancement of science and technology the way of trading us also changing. Earlier in the past, a product used to be recognized from others only via logos, letters, figures, etc. But with the advancement of technology, a new concept of sound mark came to picture.

The time in which we are living in the time of growth and advancement. Many new companies and brands are being established almost every day. All the brands are adopting many different measures to attract their customers varying from logos to the advertisement in newspapers.

In recent times a new and innovative way of promoting the goods is the sound mark. Sound marks are considered to give exclusivity and value to the brand. Earlier sound mark was not recognized as a trademark in India but with the advent of the trademark rules in the year 2017 legal recognition has been provided to sound marks.


Sound mark is a form of the trademark which is gaining popularity in the present times. Sound marks now play an important role in the promotion of brands and services. Sound marks are important because it has a larger impact on the mind of the people.

When an individual listens to the sound mark of a product it has a greater impact on his mind, and can easily identify the product on listening to the sound mark again.

One of the most popular sound marks in India is that of Nokia which users hear when the device is turned on or off. Sound marks are becoming popular day by day in India due to a wide section of illiterate people in the country who recognizes a brand only through its jingles and sounds.

Trademark is a kind of Intellectual Property, that arises out of an idea or innovation and it is protected under the Indian Trademark Act, 1999. At the time of its enactment, this act only protected logos, words, and letters but now after the rules of the trademark of 2017, the law also covers the sound marks.

Trademark has been defined in Section 2(zb) of the Trademarks Act, 1999 which provides that a mark that is capable of being represented graphically and is capable of distinguishing the products or services of one from the other is a trademark.

Sound marks are considered as non-conventional trademarks and can only be registered if it is capable of being represented graphically i.e. in the form of notations or wordings.

Few examples of Sound marks are the ringtone of Nokia, the four-note bell sound of Britannia, etc.

What is Non-Conventional Trademark?

Non-conventional trademarks are those trademarks that do not belong to the pre-existing form of trademarks and are difficult to get registered. Non-conventional marks include marks based on appearance, shape, sound, smell, taste, and texture, etc.

But now gradually these unconventional trademarks are also getting recognition under the laws of many countries including India.

Many countries of the world recognized the concept of the sound mark by adding this word in the definition of the trademarks, but India adopted a different approach and recognized the sound mark in the graphical form.

With the coming of the trademark rule of 2017, the process of the registration of trademark has been made easy and the concept of sound mark received legal recognition.

Yahoo is considered as the first foreign brand to get a sound mark registered whereas ICICI bank was the first Indian organization to get a sound mark registered.

Registration of Sound Mark

Before the commencement of the trademark rules of 2017, the registration of the sound mark was quite difficult and time-consuming. Earlier the applicants were required to represent their sound marks graphically but now the sound marks can be registered in the MP3 format.

Procedure for the registration of the sound mark

The procedure for the registration of a sound mark has been given in rule 26 of the trademark rules 2017 which came to force on 6 March 2017.

Rule 26 provides that-.

Where an application for the registration of a trademark consists of a sound as a trademark, the reproduction of the same shall be submitted in the MP3 format not exceeding thirty seconds’ length recorded on a medium that allows for easy and audible replaying accompanied with a graphical representation of its notations.

Thus the submission of the sound mark is to be made in MP3 format and the length of the file should not exceed 30 seconds, a graphical representation is also mandatory.


Sound mark is now considered as a very important mode of promotion of the product due to its uniqueness and reaches to a vast number of people. Sound mark is a result of recent technological advancement which has now been properly recognized under the Indian law on Trademarks.

Before the enactment and enforcement of the Trademark rules of 2017, the registration of the sound mark was not easy. Earlier the sound marks were considered as a Non-conventional trademark and it was almost impossible to get it registered due to the complexity of the provisions of the Trademark act, 1999. Now under the trademark rules of 2017 sound marks can be registered with ease. The new rules allow the applicant to submit the sound in the MP3 format.

The relaxation of the procedure for the registration of the sound mark will lead to an increase in the sound mark registrations as well as in the values of the brand and products.


· The Trademarks Act, 1999






· Trademark rules 2017 came to force on March 6, 2017