brandchannel.com looks at the history of trademarks and highlights the difficulties of “Trademarking Sounds, Sights, Smells and Touch”:
The representation of nontraditional marks remains a problem to this day. According to Allan Poulter, a partner in the British law firm of Field Fisher Waterhouse, “There have been a number of decisions of the European Court of Justice over the past year or so that have considered the registrability of non-visual marks. Generally, these decisions have accepted that, in principle, these types of mark can be registered — in that they may be capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of another. However, where the applications have faltered is in the attempt to satisfy the requirement of the graphic representation of the mark.”
Many nontraditional trademarks end up being adopted or accepted by the public well before the laws of the country concerned are amended to give specific protection to the new forms. For example, Coca-Cola, which first bottled its soft drink in 1894, began using its distinctive fluted-and-bulging bottle design in 1915. But it was not until 1960 that the company succeeded in registering the design as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
There have, however, been relaxations in the requirements for registering nontraditional marks. In the US, applications for sound and scent marks no longer need to be accompanied by a drawing. In the United Kingdom trademarks have now been granted for