Sound marks are registrable in China pursuant to the new Trademark Law, effective May 1 2014. The Trademark Implementation Regulations, effective on the same date, have clarified the filing requirements. 

The applicant must:

  • expressly indicate the request for sound mark protection in the application form;
  • state how the sound mark is intended to be used;
  • provide a sample of the sound mark:
    • the audio file should be in wav or mp3 format not exceeding 5 megabytes and stored on a CD; or
    • if the application is made by paper (not electronic) filing, the sample should be stored in a read-only CD;
  • provide a description of the sound mark:
    • if the sound is musical, it should be represented by a stave or numbered musical notation, with any additional written description; or
    • if the sound is not musical, and thus cannot be represented by a stave or numbered musical notation, a written description of the sound mark is mandatory; and
  • ensure that the description is consistent with the sample of the sound mark.

In contrast to Hong Kong, where any sample of a sound mark submitted to the Trademarks Registry is of only referential value when assessing registrability, applicants in China should bear in mind that such sample is mandatory for filing in China, and is as important as the graphical representation and written description.

Annie Tsoi

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com