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Extending a Trademark's Boundaries

Tarzan's Yell Resounds

Fross Zelnick has crafted unique and innovative strategies to protect clients' most valuable intellectual property assets, including the legendary TARZAN yell. When the Estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs entered into a U.S. licensing agreement for a TARZAN action figure toy, Fross Zelnick urged its client to seek trademark registration not only for the name TARZAN but also for the well-known TARZAN yell. As most trademark practitioners know, it is extremely difficult to secure a trademark registration for sounds, particularly in relation to toys. Sound trademarks are more commonly registered for services. By working closely with the client, the firm was able to gather the necessary evidence of "fame and acquired distinctiveness" to persuade officials at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the TARZAN yell was sufficiently distinctive to merit its own registration. The registration was granted, under Registration No. 2,210,506, and is often cited as a significant example of U.S. protection of unconventional marks.

More recently, partner David Ehrlich, filed an application for the Tarzan yell to be used in slot machines. His filing was the subject of a humorous BusinessWeek article dated January 22, 2007.