Harley Davidson Exhaust Sound Patented? | Drive Safe and Fast

Motorcycles

Published on July 5th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Harley Davidson Exhaust Sound Patented?

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When Japanese motorcycle makers in the late 1980s saw how the Milwaukee motorcycle company had a marginal sales lead on the cruiser market, they quickly realized that their own heavy-duty bikes lacked the distinctive ‘Harley’ rumbling sound that many customers wanted. The Japanese then were quick to release cruisers with similar exhaust and engine rumbles….but not completely the same.

Harley felt they were trying to duplicate the rumble of the V-Twin engine, which many buyers were seeking. On February 1, 1994, the company filed a sound trademark application for the distinctive sound of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine: “The mark consists of the exhaust sound of applicant’s motorcycles, produced by V-twin, common crankpin motorcycle engines when the goods are in use”. Nine of Harley-Davidson’s competitors filed comments opposing the application, arguing that cruiser-style motorcycles of various brands use a single-crankpin V-twin engine which produce a similar sound. These objections were followed by litigation. In August 2001, the company dropped efforts to federally register its trademark. However, legal counsel for the company claims that the Harley-Davidson still holds trademark rights in the sound even without a registration

The Japanese put it more diplomatically when fighting Harley’s trademark request, arguing that all big motorcycles sound pretty much the same. After 6 long years of legal proceedings and no resolution in sight, Harley caved and still no other motorcycle manufacturer has managed to out-do the Harley rumble.

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