Most people don’t realize you can trademark sounds. Intel’s chimes, Yahoo’s yodel, and Taco Bell’s bell toll are all locked down, but only about 700 sound trademarks exist. That means the signature sounds of tons of companies could be stolen and trademarked by squatters. That includes an app’s boot up noise, a sound from a commercial, or a pronunciation of a company’s name. Bootstrapped trademark registration startup Trademarkia can help. It just launched a sound trademark service where you can listen to existing trademarks and apply for your own.
Trademarkia has grown into one of the top 5 legal sites on the web. Launched at TechCrunch 50 in 2009, its sales will soon cross $50 million, and it now counts 3 million page views a month and 1.5 million uniques a month. It allows people to register, oppose, and monitor trademarks and more.
Trademarkia went to a lot of trouble to create its sound trademark service. It digitized the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s catalog of analog sound trademarks, and hired musicians to re-record those from up to 70 years ago that only had a description. It’s actually the first company to ever digitize sound trademarks.
The company’s CEO Raj Abhyanker tells me that “before today, only large companies who had sophisticated trademark attorneys registered sound trademarks. Many trademark attorneys don’t even know you can. Tens of thousands of businesses use sounds to identify themselves without trademarking them. It leaves them exposed.” So if you use a unique sound to identify your company or product, pay a few hundred bucks through Trademarkia and buy the legal rights to it.