Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. (“Tencent”), recently sued the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) of State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) of China against TRAB’s decision on a refused sound trademark of “DiDiDiDiDiDi”, the first administrative lawsuit of the kind since sound was listed as an element of trademark on May 1, 2014.

On May 4, 2014, Tencent Company filed an application for the mark “DiDiDiDiDiDi”, a sound that can be heard when messages come during the running of Tencent QQ application, but the application was refused. Tencent, dissatisfied, appealed to TRAB who sustained the refusal on April 18 2016, reasoning that the “DiDiDiDiDiDi” sound can only represent some feature of the software, and is in a simple form, short of original creation, though the evidence of Tencent could effectively show that QQ software is well-known. TRAB also believed that the sound can hardly distinguish the source of service because it lacks of obvious characteristics.

Further dissatisfied with TRAB’s decision, Tencent filed a lawsuit with the Beijing IP Court. Tencent stressed that the company has become one of the well-known providers of comprehensive internet services since it was founded as early as 1998. Tencent QQ’s application is a popular instant massager. The sound “DiDiDiDiDiDi” had been used to identify the arrival of messages and could directly correspond to Tencent’s QQ product or services. The sound, including six same signals, neither too long nor too simple, is distinctive enough. It can be distinguished from other service sources. Tencent pointed out that the public can immediately associate the sound with Tencent’s services due to the long-term and extensive use and that it is untenable to consider “original creation” as a criterion for reviewing of sound trademark.

The said case is now pending.

Source: www.iprchn.com and Chofn