On March 28th 2012, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) issued a Practice Notice announcing that, effective immediately, it will accept applications for the registration of sound marks.  

The CIPO Practice Notice provides that an application for the registration of a sound mark may only be submitted by way of a paper application and should include:

  • a statement that the application is for the registration of a sound mark;
  • a drawing that graphically represents the sound;
  • a description of the sound; and
  • an electronic recording of the sound in MP3 or WAVE format, limited to 5 MB in size and recorded on a CD or DVD.

With respect to registrability, where a sound mark is considered to be clearly descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive, an objection will be raised. However, as in the case of traditional trade-marks, such a sound mark may still be registrable by showing that the mark has acquired distinctiveness or is not without distinctive character in Canada.  

Many other countries have long allowed for the registration of sound marks. This welcomed development in Canadian trade-mark practice places Canada in line with current trade-mark practices around the world, and will fundamentally change the way brand holders protect their sound marks in Canada.