‘TikTok Music’ App Could Take on Spotify and Apple: Trademark Filings

  • TikTok parent ByteDance filed a trademark application for a service called “TikTok Music.”
  • The service could feature an app for users to purchase, play, share, and download music.
  • ByteDance already runs a separate music streaming app called Resso in three markets.

TikTok is a go-to platform for discovering new music, regularly propelling songs into the mainstream and often to the top of charts like the Billboard 100 and Spotify Viral 50. Now the company appears to be inching closer to launching a standalone music streaming service of its own.

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

Other possible use cases for “TikTok Music” in ByteDance’s application include an app that would allow users to “live stream audio and video” as well as the ability to “edit and upload photographs as the cover of playlists” and “comment on music, songs, and albums.”

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

The idea that ByteDance would launch a standalone “TikTok Music” streaming service in the US to compete with players like Spotify and Apple Music isn’t unfounded. It already runs a streaming app called Resso in three markets — India, Brazil, and Indonesia — that has been grabbing market share from other streamers in the past year.

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

It’s easy to see a scenario in which the company could try to convert its existing TikTok user base into paying music subscribers. ByteDance followed that exact strategy to grow Resso in Brazil, adding a button for TikTok users to click into the Resso app when they stumbled upon a song they wanted 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 as part of a geopolitical dispute between India and China, two former Resso employees told Insider.

TikTok did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on what its plans were for the “TikTok Music” trademark.

But by applying for it in the US, it would eventually need to demonstrate that it is either actually using the trademark for its specified services or that it has a real (bona fide) intent to use it in connection with the sale of a product, according to three experts in trademark law.

“Typically a company the size of TikTok or ByteDance is only going to file trademark applications for items that they’re seriously considering,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben of Gerben Law Firm told Insider. “If you look back through any major company’s trademark filings, you’ll see ones that they filed that never came to fruition. But a lot of times they do. And a lot of times it’s something they’re seriously working on.”

ByteDance listed out a slew of potential use cases for the “TikTok Music” trademark, including an app that lets users “live stream audio and video interactive media programming in the field of entertainment, fashion, sports, and current events,” among its proposed goods and services.

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

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

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