If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then…

…it must be a rival duck.

Here’s a new one: A case for “sound mark” infringement. It’s like a trademark, except it’s a sound. And according to Bob Salmon, VP of marketing for Ride the Ducks, a rival company called Bay Quackers has swum into Ride the Ducks’ waters. Ride the Ducks has filed suit against Bay Quackers in San Francisco for using the same duck quack.

In case you are new to this, these companies drive sight-seeing tours in ducks – open-air amphibious vehicles – which roam a city and then drop into the nearest body of water to complete a tour. Riders blow the quacking kazoo to get attention and greet the natives. It’s loud, it’s rowdy, and it’s a lucrative tourist business.

Salmon contends that his kazoos, the “Wacky Quackers” are an important, interactive component to business and that Bay Quackers has created a similar kazoo that produces the same-sounding quack.

Sound marks are uncommon, with a short list including the MGM’s lion roar and NBC’s signature chimes. Suits over these marks are rare and difficult to pursue because, as a legal associate claims “sound is rather ephemeral. But it’s almost the ultimate trademark, because everyone recognizes sound. There is a mental reaction there.”

Sound marks 2

We’ll stay up-to-date on this and report the quack outcome. In the meantime, if any other sound marks come to mind – let us know.


© Ride the Duck: A sightseer with wacky quacker

One Response to “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then…”

  1. catherine Says:

    The Law & Order “ching ching” sound comes to mind as a sound that’s very recognizable and associated with a brand…

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