In an effort to create a distinctive sound for its electric vehicles, Porsche had submitted a trademark application for a specific noise that would replace the near-silence of an electric vehicle accelerating. However, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) rejected the application, deeming the sound to be unmemorable and lacking distinctiveness.
Car manufacturers are required to ensure that vision-impaired pedestrians can identify approaching vehicles, and this often involves designing artificial sounds for electric cars. Porsche’s submitted sound was described as resembling a vacuum cleaner or a VHS tape being rewound. The EUIPO argued that the sequence was unmemorable and did little to identify the sound as a Porsche.
Porsche appealed the decision, claiming that the sound was artificially created and not derived from a traditional internal-combustion engine. The company cited examples like the fake acceleration sound created by Academy Award-winner Hans Zimmer for BMW’s electric cars, as well as the simplicity of iconic sounds like the Lightsabers in Star Wars and KITT’s scanner in the Knight Rider television show.
The EUIPO, however, maintained that the issue was not whether the consumer would perceive the sound of an engine but whether the sound would enable the relevant public to distinguish Porsche’s vehicles from those of other suppliers. Since the sound lacked striking or memorable elements, it was deemed insufficient for consumers to recognize and assign it to a specific provider.
Porsche’s appeal is currently ongoing, as the company contests the EUIPO’s decision. It remains to be seen whether the sound will be approved as a trademark.
– European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
– Drive (official documents obtained)