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The Harley-Davidson Sound Trademark

Intellectual Property Insights

Harley-Davidson, often abbreviated as Harley, is a motorcycle manufacturer in America. Harley-Davidson sells heavyweight motorcycles designed for cruising on the highway. Harley-Davidson sustains a loyal brand community which keeps active through Harley-Davidson clubs and events. Licensing of the Harley-Davidson brand and logo accounted for $40 million of the company’s net revenue in 2010.

Harleys have a distinctive design and exhaust note and in 1994, the company filed a sound trademark application. The distinctive sound of the motorcycle engine is produced by V-twin, common crankpin motorcycle engines when in use. Harley-Davidson competitors opposed the trade mark application, arguing that cruiser-style motorcycles of various brands use a single-crankpin V-twin engine which produce a similar sound. These objections were followed by litigation. In 2000 Harley-Davidson dropped efforts to federally register its the sound of a Harley trademark.

Trademarks in South Africa

Trademark Colors
The South African Trade Marks Act specifically provides for the registration of non-conventional trade marks, such as colors. A mark is defined as any sign capable of being represented graphically including, shapes…

Trademark Shapes
In order to trademark shapes your mark needs to consist of a three-dimensional shape. It is typically considered a non-traditional trade mark.  Other non-traditional trade marks include position marks and gesture marks…

International Trademark Protection
Your mark should be registered in the countries in which you offer your products or services under that mark. You should also consider filing in countries where you intend to use the mark in the future…

Posted on 29 June 2011
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International Trademark Protection

There is no such thing as an International Trademark. You should file a trademark in each of the countries in which you offer your products or services and you should also consider filing in countries where you intend to use the mark in the future, but some countries do have use requirements. Various international agreements make it possible to file a single logo registration in more than one country:

BOIP (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands)
Community Trademark (European Union)
Madrid Agreement (97 Contracting Parties)
OAPI (17 French speaking member states in Africa)
ARIPO (19 English speaking member states in Africa)

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