A Brazilian company, Globo Comunicação e Participações, appealed against the decision of the EU Intellectual Property Office in November 2014.  In 2015, the EUIPO’s fifth board of appeal upheld the initial ruling, prompting an appeal to the General Court.

In its judgment the Court said that, although the application met the criteria of a sound mark, in that it can be represented graphically, it would be perceived ‘only as a mere function of the goods and services covered and not as an indication of their commercial origin’.

The judgment held: ‘A sound sign which did not have the capacity to mean more than the mere banal combination of notes of which it consists would not enable the target consumer to perceive it as functioning to identify the goods and services at issue.’.

It added: ‘It is the “standard” ringing sound with which all electronic devices equipped with a timer and all telephony apparatus are provided, with the result that the public will be unable, without prior knowledge, to identify that ringing sound as indicating that the goods and services come from Globo Comunicação.’

The Court also pointed out that the noise will generally go unnoticed and will not be remembered by consumers.