Trade Mark Infringement Can be Based on Sound

Posted: 28th April 2011

Infringement of a trade mark need not be a visual issue: a trade mark can be infringed when the sound of the trade mark is infringed..

The case arose when the international toy manufacturer Hasbro alleged that its trade mark ‘PLAY-DOH’ had been infringed by a company selling ‘Play Dough’, an edible dough for children. The marks were not similar in appearance, nor were the products physically identical.
The defendants argued that PLAY-DOH had become synonymous with modelling clay and was thus so generic in meaning that it had lost its distinctiveness. It would not therefore qualify for trade mark protection. They also argued that if the words PLAY-DOH could be extended to cover ‘Play Dough’, then they lacked ‘distinctive character’, which is a necessity for a trade mark to be enforceable.
The court rejected both arguments.
It is good sense to make sure that you research trade marks before you start to use any trading style.We can assist you to make sure that you do not infringe others’ trade marks, and help you to protect your own trade marks and the rights attached to them.