When an innovator or creative person comes up with something new, the first thing they want to do is patent it so they have exclusive rights to it for a certain time. Trademarks are related to patents. Brad Reifler suggests that whereas patents keep others from making commercial use of your inventions, trademarks protect the names of products, services, logos and other things that are used to identify the source of the good or service so that you know what it reminds you of when you see it. One popular use of trademarks is for a business to use it to protect their company logo, so when people see it they associate it with that brand.
It turns out that sounds can be trademarked as well. There are some interesting ones out there that you may not be aware have such protection. The doink-doink, however one chooses to spell it, that comes at the beginning of every “Law & Order” episode enjoys trademark protection. Homer Simpson’s exclamation of “D’oh!” and Tarzan’s yell are similarly protected. Businesses that utilize unique sounds use this type of trademark protection in addition to protecting their logos. The Pillsbury Doughboy’s giggle and the Green Giant’s “Ho, ho, ho” are examples of this. If you start a small business or any creative venture and have a unique sound that you use to identify yourself, run to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before someone else steals your idea.