May 5

Registration of the 1st MP3 trademark at the INPI (French National Institute for Industrial Property)


Deposit of the 1era MP3 mark at the INPI


Here we regularly tell you about non-traditional brandswhich have emerged with the development of new technologies. On that occasion, we mentioned the movement marks or the olfactory brand Play-Doh.

Today we will talk about the sound brand, which is experiencing a new lease of life. Indeed, since 1991, it has been possible to register sound trademarks with the INPI. However, it was necessary to represent the trademark graphically (with a musical staff for example). But with the entry into force of the Covenant law, this obligation was removed from the Intellectual Property Code (CPI). It is now possible to register an MP3 file as a trademark.


The sound trademark: a novelty?

On January 17, 2020, the INPI published in the Bulletin Officiel de la Propriété Intellectuelle (BOPI) the very first French MP3 trademark application. Please note: this is not the first application for a sound mark.. Indeed, between 1994 and 2017, some twenty sound trademarks were registered in France, mostly by companies.

However, these deposits were then subject to an obligation of graphic representation. Most often, the sounds to be protected are represented by musical staves.

So, in 2012, Apple had obtained the registration of the following markwhich is aimed at, among other things, IT products:

brand MP3 Apple INPI


Similarly, in 2017, the confectionery company Lutti has registered the sound trademark The next one to the INPI for food products and toys. It corresponds to its slogan "Fizz, Fresh and Fun":

brand MP3 Lutti INPI

Therefore, sound marks are not new. But what is new is the possibility of filing an MP3 file with the INPI.


The 1era French MP3 brand

With the transposition of the Pact law, the requirement for graphic representation was removed from article L.711-1 CPI. Since December 15, 2019, it is therefore possible to register non-traditional trademarks via MP3 files in France.. This possibility was already open at European level since 1 January October 2017 (there are more than 200 registered EU sound trademarks, of which about 1/3 are MP3 trademarks).

The 1er French trademark registration MP3 was carried out on December 26, 2019 by a private individual:

first brand MP3 INPI

The particularities of this deposit

There are some interesting points:

  • The MP3 file is directly accessible on the INPI public database.
  • At the time of filing, the MP3 file (less than 10 MB in size) is digitally fingerprinted by the INPI. This ensures the integrity of the file.
  • The applicant has chosen to provide a description of the sound: "Or-ion is a sound that raises the vibrational rate of all matter and is an energetic harmonic.". This addition was not necessary. Indeed, only the tone available via the MP3 file will be protected. The purpose or function of the sound will not be taken into account. This could even call into question the validity of the trademark.

Conditions of validity of the MP3 trademark

It should be noted that the sound mark, like all marks, must have a distinctive character. and play the role of an origin indicator. In the present case, one may wonder about the capacity of this French depository to fulfil this role. Will this sound really be perceived as an indication of the commercial origin of the products concerned (namely: sound transmission apparatus; sound reproduction apparatus; personal accident prevention devices)?

Finally, while it is now possible to register an MP3 trademark with the INPI and EUIPO, the same cannot be said of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Consequently, French trademarks registered in MP3 format cannot be the subject of an international extension..

If you have any doubts about the validity of your MP3 trademark, please do not hesitate to to be accompanied by a professionall.


Sources: BOPI and INPI's trademark database site.


trademark registration, INPI, distinctive trademark, MP3 trademark, non-traditional trademark, sound trademark

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