Sound marks according to the Nicaraguan Legislation

Posted by: Aura Torrez | Junior Associate at Alvarado y Asociados

Our legislation establishes what signs may constitute a trade mark, and says: marks may include among others, a word or set of words, slogans and advertising slogans, letters, numbers, monograms, figures, portraits, labels, badges, prints, cartoons, borders, lines and stripes, and combinations and arrangements of colors, sounds and other perceptible signs such as odors. They may also consist of form, presentation or packaging of the products, their packaging or wrapping, the means or places of sale of products and services.

Those peculiar signs such as sounds and smells are recognized as non-traditional marks, as it well says those are not the kind of mark that are commonly registered, even though they are subject to protection, many companies are interested to protect everything that has been the result of its effort to position their products as number one in the market, so they try as far as possible to protect what they can. For example when we hear a lion roaring in television we often think of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, this is considered a sound mark.

A sound mark consists of a sound or combination of sounds that are able to refer the business origin. So we can say that marks not only can be seen, they can also be heard.

Many sounds are familiar and we can often think of a company or a particular product by listening to them. It can be deduced something by the sound emitted, as if we hear the sound of waves along with chirping birds we easily can go back to thinking on a beach, or if you hear the sound of a siren you will immediately think of an ambulance or the police. The sound mark works the same way, with it the company hopes that the consumer by listening a particular sound, will go back to thinking about the product or service offered by that company.

Many companies have worked on the development of logos, and over time these have varied as originally designed. And in that evolution also designed sound marks, marks that make that connection with the customers of a company, sometimes you do not even need to be a customer of the company to recognize the sound mark. For example, many people cannot drive a motorcycle, or have never purchased one, however they recognize the sound of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and that is the purpose of a mark, that an X product is recognized for belonging to an X company. The sound of a Harley Davidson motorcycle is a sound mark, and outstanding mark. We also have the case of the sound mark of Nokia, every time you turn on a Nokia phone hearing that particular ring tone, you may recognize that is a Nokia phone. In this sense we can say that cell phone companies are at the forefront of what is sound mark.

In Nicaragua the registration of sound marks is possible, even though the Law on Trademarks and Other Distinctive Signs does not cover every step for their registration, so it is assumed that the process is the same as a traditional mark, for example, it does not say how many copies of the mark must be submitted with the application or like in other jurisdictions, it doesn’t say if the sound mark must be musical or non-musical, so it is understood that a sound mark can be applied as musical or non-musical.

Currently in the Registry of Intellectual Property of Nicaragua the only additional requirements at the time of submission of an application for registering a sound mark is the sound track of the mark recorded on a CD, it does not specify the format, so it will usually be MP3, also the graphical representation of the sound which can be accomplished through written description; musical notation or pentagram; the name of the musical work. It is important to note that currently in Nicaragua, there haven't been any sound marks registered, but the registration of three sound marks is pending.

It sounds like sound marks as well as traditional marks should be a source of identification of products and services in relation to other marks in the market. Therefore, they must meet the same requirements, having distinctiveness and novelty, and also not falling into the grounds of non-registrability by a third earlier right that could cause a risk of confusion or association.

With the evolution of media and technology is increasingly common to speak of sound marks, companies in its reinvention achieve that even an aroma is recognized by the consumer, which is why marks have taken an impressive value for companies and position them against competitors, so it is not surprising that more non-traditional marks continue being registered.

If you require additional information, please contact Aura Lila Torrez at atorrez@alvaradoyasociados.com.ni

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