Porsche's EV Sound Trademark Rejected For Sounding Too Generic

Patents and Trademarks / 2 Comments

The EUIPO thinks relevant customers must recognize the sound as a Porsche.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has rejected an application from Porsche to trademark the soundtrack of its EVs like the Taycan, claiming that the sound in itself is not unique enough to be instantly identifiable as a Porsche.

Based on the official documents unearthed by Australia's Drive, the EUIPO rejected the application because the relevant public should be able to distinguish a Porsche sound from other brands. The agency added the sound is forgettable.

"It is a sound that, although not realistic, imitates the sound of an internal combustion engine accelerating until it reaches the desired speed," wrote the trademark authority. "However, the fundamental issue is not so much whether the consumer will perceive the sound of an engine or not, but whether that sound will enable the relevant public to distinguish the notifying party's goods and services from those of other suppliers."

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Perhaps not through Porsche's fault, but rather general societal standards, the EUIPO states that "the relevant public does not concentrate on the sound with sufficient attention or even memorize the sound. As such, the sound mark applied for cannot fulfill its main function, namely to enable relevant consumers to recognize a commercial origin."

According to the trademark documentation (where you can also listen to the sound in question), Porsche appealed the decision on September 6, but it has not yet been reevaluated.

The sound in question is the pedestrian warning sound, played at relatively low speeds to alert pedestrians of the approach of an EV. While Lamborghini had no problem trademarking the sound of the Revuelto earlier this year, Porsche's sound is considered too generic.

Porsche is arguing otherwise, saying that basic tone sequences can be instantly recognizable, like the sound of a lightsaber or of KITT's scanner from Knight Rider.

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Porsche further claims that the sound has been accepted by the German intellectual property office, the DPMA, and that BMW has trademarked comparable sounds, which were composed by Hans Zimmer.

Apart from their cool, futuristic sound, artificial noise is essential for EVs to meet safety regulations. As such, they've been the center of recalls and legal battles in recent years. There have even been decrees that these pedestrian warning sounds must all sound the same, regardless of which manufacturer builds the car, in a bid to ensure they all meet the same standards.

This is not to be confused with the internal soundtrack played through an EV's speakers. This can be whatever you like, and Porsche even has an option for the Taycan called Porsche Electric Sport Sound, which lets you choose what the car sounds like inside, emulating a 919 Hybrid Le Mans racer or even a Porsche 356.

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