“TikTok Music” app could take on Spotify and Apple: trademark filings

  • TikTok parent company ByteDance filed a trademark application for a service called “TikTok Music.”
  • The service could include an app that allows users to buy, play, share and download music.
  • ByteDance already operates a separate music streaming app called Resso in three markets.

TikTok is a hub for new music discovery, regularly pushing songs into the mainstream and often topping charts like the Billboard 100 and Spotify Viral 50. Now the company seems closer to launching a standalone music streaming service of its own.

Parent company ByteDance filed a trademark application for “TikTok Music” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May, applying the term to a variety of goods and services, including a mobile app that would allow users to “buy, to play, share, download music, songs, albums, lyrics.”

Other potential use cases for “TikTok Music” in ByteDance’s application include an app that would allow users to “live stream audio and video,” the ability to “edit and upload photos as playlist covers,” and “put music to comment”, songs and albums.”

ByteDance first filed its “TikTok Music” trademark application in Australia in November and later filed it in the United States on May 9.

The idea that ByteDance would launch a standalone “TikTok Music” streaming service in the US to compete with providers like Spotify and Apple Music is not without merit. It already operates a streaming app called Resso in three markets — India, Brazil and Indonesia — which has been grabbing market share from other streamers over the past year.

TikTok Music could follow the blueprint of ByteDance’s streaming music app Resso

It’s easy to imagine the company trying to convert its existing TikTok user base into paid music subscribers. ByteDance followed exactly this strategy to grow Resso in Brazil, adding a button that allows TikTok users to click into the Resso app when they come across a song they want to hear in full, The Information reported. The company had plans to use TikTok as a marketing tool for Resso in India before the app was banned in June 2020 amid a geopolitical row between India and China, two former Resso employees told Insider.

TikTok didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment on its plans for the “TikTok Music” brand.

But by filing in the US, it would eventually have to show that it is either actually using the mark for its stated services or that it has genuine (good faith) intent to use it in connection with the sale of a product, according to three trademark law experts .

“Typically, a company the size of TikTok or ByteDance only files trademark applications for items that they are seriously considering,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben of the law firm Gerben told Insider. “If you look at a large company’s trademark applications, you will see the ones that filed them that never came to fruition. But often they do. And often it’s something they’re working on seriously.”

ByteDance listed a number of potential use cases for the “TikTok Music” brand, including an app that would allow users to “live stream interactive audio and video media programs in entertainment, fashion, sports, and current events” goods and services.

The move is typical of a tech company, Michelle Cooke, partner and co-head of media and entertainment at law firm Arent Fox Schiff, told Insider.

“As a tech company, your options are pretty broad,” Cooke said. “When you look at some of the industry leaders and how they have evolved into a wide range of goods, products and services that involve digital assets and the form in which they can arrive, you as a tech company can say, ‘I have these Intending to be expansive in good faith’ – the blueprint is there.”

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