European trademark authorities have declined Porsche’s electric car sound trademark application, citing its lack of distinctiveness and resemblance to traditional engines.
Porsche’s proposed electric car sound is likened to a vacuum cleaner or VHS tape rewind.
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) denies trademark due to unmemorable and non-distinctive nature.
Porsche appeals the decision, comparing its sound’s simplicity to iconic noises like Star Wars’ Lightsabers.
Porsche’s journey to create a distinctive sound for its electric vehicles recently faced a setback. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) turned down the German sports-car manufacturer’s application to trademark an artificially created sound meant to signify an electric vehicle’s acceleration. This decision comes in light of the growing industry trend to design unique sounds for electric vehicles, ensuring they’re identifiable, especially to vision-impaired pedestrians.
The sound Porsche presented, reminiscent of a vacuum cleaner or the rewinding of a VHS tape, was submitted for trademark consideration in November 2022. However, the EUIPO found the sound sequence lacking in distinctiveness. Furthermore, they felt it mirrored the sounds of traditional internal-combustion engines, such as those running on petrol or diesel, making it challenging to distinctly associate with Porsche.
Porsche, not to be dissuaded easily, contested the decision. They emphasized that their sound was artificially crafted and not an offshoot of any engine noise. In their defense, Porsche highlighted the involvement of film composers and musicians in developing such sounds, drawing a parallel to BMW’s collaboration with the acclaimed Hans Zimmer for their electric vehicles.
Furthermore, Porsche drew comparisons with other iconic yet simple sounds, like the hum of Lightsabers in the Star Wars series or KITT’s scanner noise from the Knight Rider series, arguing that simplicity does not negate memorability. They also pointed out a previously approved trademark from BMW for an electric vehicle sound.
EUIPO’s stance remained unswayed, emphasizing that the key concern was whether the sound could distinctly identify Porsche’s vehicles from competitors. Given that the sound lacked any standout elements, the public might struggle to associate it with a specific brand. While EUIPO has declined the trademark, reports suggest that Porsche is not backing down and has initiated an appeal process.