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Is it Patentable?
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   patentability of specific sounds or noise?
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   Author  Topic: patentability of specific sounds or noise?  (Read 829 times)
l waters
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patentability of specific sounds or noise?
« on: Aug 13th, 2006, 4:36pm »
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i was wondering if the sound a lighter makes when opened could be or is patented? and what sounds or makes a sound patentable?
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JimIvey
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Re: patentability of specific sounds or noise?
« Reply #1 on: Aug 14th, 2006, 3:04pm »
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I'm guessing you can -- I believe I've seen patents for carrier waves for wireless communications, so you can claim a wave, including an audio frequency wave, so long as the wave is non-obvious.  However, the sound a lighter makes probably isn't non-obvious -- it's the sound of flint scratching roughed-up metal.  It would seem to be an obvious sound, technologically speaking.
 
However, a related commonly asked question is whether you can trademark a sound -- like Harley-Davidson tried to do with the sound of their engine(s).  The problem there is that you have to use the sound as a trademark rather than having it be a by-product of your product.  Harley didn't use the sound as a trademark (to actually identify Harley-Davidson as the source of a particular motorcycle) but instead as a designed feature that people would want to buy.  Contrast that with Intel's sound they play at the beginning of every commercial.  I think Sprint did something like that too.  The sound was closely linked with the brand displayed on the screen and perhaps synchronized with display of a logo to form as association of the sound with a brand.  The sound was also distinct from any sound produced by the product/service.
 
So, you can trademark a sound, but you have to use the sound as a trademark.  
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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Isaac
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Re: patentability of specific sounds or noise?
« Reply #2 on: Aug 14th, 2006, 3:17pm »
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on Aug 14th, 2006, 3:04pm, JimIvey wrote:
I'm guessing you can -- I believe I've seen patents for carrier waves for wireless communications, so you can claim a wave, including an audio frequency wave, so long as the wave is non-obvious.

 
I've seen patents with such claims too. But I'm also aware of 35 USC 101 rejections being made on claims drawn to carrier waves.
 
The patent office appears to believe that electrical signals are per se non-statutory subject matter; at least that is the BPAI position in In re Nuijten which has been appealed to the CAFC.
« Last Edit: Aug 14th, 2006, 3:26pm by Isaac » IP Logged

Isaac
JimIvey
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Re: patentability of specific sounds or noise?
« Reply #3 on: Aug 14th, 2006, 3:46pm »
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I believe Isaac's right.  On one hand, ellibigle elligible subject matter for patents is limited to apparatus, articles, and processes.  On the other hand, things that are elligible for patent protection include "anything under the sun made by man."  
 
If your invention falls in the latter category and not the first, it gets complex, and professional help might be warranted.
 
Regards.
« Last Edit: Aug 14th, 2006, 3:47pm by JimIvey » IP Logged

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