THE CONFLICT: In 1992, the U.S. movie studio applied to CIPO to trademark the famous lion roar that has accompanied Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s onscreen logo in one form or another since the 1920s. CIPO delayed its decision until August 2010, finally refusing the request, saying it preferred only to trademark items that could be represented visually, like the Levi’s Red Tab or the Playboy bunny head.
THE OUTCOME: MGM appealed CIPO’s decision in federal court and this March, finally won. CIPO’s policy is now in line with most other countries. It will allow the trademarking of short sounds (but not longer works such as songs, which still fall under copyright law), meaning the roar of Leo, MGM’s lion since 1957, is now protected from those who would use it for their own underhanded purposes.