Apple seeks trademark for their classic Mac startup chime

“Over the years Apple has filed for a wide variety of trademarks so as to protect their distinct imagery and/or marketing strategies,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“Beyond the normal trademarks such as the iMac or iPhone, they also trademarked some pretty odd ones, too,” Purcher reports. “They trademarked their famous marketing line “There’s an App for that,” along with covering store designs and even store fixtures of one sort or another.”

Purcher reports, “So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Apple has now filed for the Mac’s classic startup chime. The Mac’s startup chime is made up of a single chord played when a Mac is turned on. According to Wikipedia, the chime indicates that diagnostic tests running immediately at startup have found no hardware or fundamental software problems.”

Read more in the full article here.


      1. HOWEVER, if they could bar Microsoft from further using their awful startup tune (obviously inspired by the Mac’s startup chime), the world would be a better place. Imagine a bullpen office with lots of Windows machines starting up in the morning… Your day will be spoiled immediately, except maybe if your workstation is a Mac.

    1. They’re seekIng a trademark not a patent. I’m surprised that they hadn’t already TM’d the chime. And no, it’s not like owning a color. Do you think NBC has a TM on their little three note chime?

        1. Remember, a trademark has to do with context. If Apple wins the trademark, it doesn’t mean that no one else can use the chime. It means that no one else can use the chime as an identifying mark for their product.


        1. Ooops. I wrote my below post in response to your first (2:43 p.m) post, above. I didn’t see your response to “NOTAPATENT” where you betrayed the fact that you are an immature douche and merely an Internet troll who shouldn’t be given the time of day. You have too much self-esteme and far too little self-awareness of how ignorant you are. Never mind then.

          BTW, Infinite electronic whitespace is provided on this page for you to demonstrate that Abraham Lincoln’s advise is lost on you. That’s the one that goes “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    2. @ botvinnik

      Apple isn’t trying to “patent” anything; they are seeking a trademark a distinctive sound so they have exclusive use of it in a particular market. It’s similar to obtaining a copyright on a song. As I recall, the first company to trademark a sound was NBC; they trademarked the distinctive “dong-DONG-Dongg” tone, which denoted “NBC”. They even provided the USPTO with a music box-like mechanical device to serve as a defining, master reference source for the sequence of tones.

      There’s nothing wrong with that. It wouldn’t be just if ” rel=”nofollow”>Samsung, for instance, came out with a desktop computer that generated the exact same startup chime. Why? Because the sound is distinctive in the marketplace and strongly suggests “happy Apple-brand computer.”

  1. I remember a rumour when Copland was being developed that the Mac team had a symphony orchestra tune up then play the startup chord, and that was going to be the new default.

    I still think they should definitely do that!

  2. Apple isn’t trademarking a chord like the reactionaries are stating without context. Apple is trademarking a chord associated with and only with the Mac Startup process. That’s a huge difference. Can’t people read any more?

  3. Isn’t that chime pretty much the same as the fade out chord at the end of A Day in the Life by The Beatles? I know that’s what I’ve thought of every time I hear it.

    1. It’s very close, but it’s just off enough, I suppose, to have kept the Beatles from suing Apple, again. But it did remind me of something, so thanks for nailing it.

      Hear the end of the the Beatles tune, here:

  4. Wouldn’t this be a copyright rather than a trademark? Songs And books are copyrighted, isn’t a trademark a graphical image to denote a brand ?

    1. @Grog nard

      No. Trademark’s are sorta similar to copyrights but are more limited in scope. See my 7:43 pm post, above. The NBC “dong-DONG-donnnng” sequence may be used for all manner of things (Mattel can make a Barbie car that sounds like that when it shifts into reverse) but NBC has exclusive use as a radio and television broadcaster to use that as part of their trade dress. ABC can’t suddenly use NBC’s tone sequence as an affiliate shifts over to network programming.

      I’m not expert in these matters (15 patents, no trademarks) but the above conveys the general gist. Maybe someone who truly has expertise in trademarks will correct me where I’m wrong or fill in any blanks.

  5. Which chime? There’s more than one.

    And if they mean the original 128K Mac startup chime, why should they get a trademark for something they don’t use anymore?

  6. This chord has been so synonymous with macintosh for so many years. I find it a severe oversight thst Apple hadn’t trademarked that chord years ago.

  7. Trademarks are a little different from patents – they are established for things in context. It would be specific to the function that it serves. Anyone would still be welcome to use the sound outside of the context of the trademark. Remember – patents are for inventions and their implementation (both physical and intellectual, a toaster, code, etc.), copyright is for specific instances of intellectual property (a song, script, a website, etc.), and trademarks are for specific instances of usage in a specific context (a jingle, a logo, etc.).

    1. Says the guy who obviously read lots of the replies here, then took the time to write his own smarmy reply. How self-satisfied did it make you to look down your nose as you typed that?

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