Slightly flat

If you own a Mac you know the ‘chime’, the sound when you boot up you computer. A distinct and, within the Apple community, well-known sound. Nostalgic even. Apple is now trying to trademark the classic chime, a single, five tone chord.

On 18 July Apple filed a Community trademark application, by submitting a staff with the respective chord, with the following description: “The mark consists of a sound mark consisting of a slightly flat (by approximately 30 cents) G flat/F sharp major chord.

The trademark is still under examination, but it is not unlikely that it will be refused. Common practice by OHIM, the European Trademarks Office, under European case law, is that sound marks, although acceptable as a mark, are refused until the owner can proof that the mark has acquired secondary meaning.

Secondary meaning is always a b*tch difficult to prove, however famous a mark, or in this case a sound. And has it also acquired secondary meaning under non-Mac users? What is the relevant public? Questions that Apple’s trademark attorney most likely has to answer soon.

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