Trademarking the Tracks of the Twenty-First Century


Music technology is ever improving but the quality isn’t quite the same.

Technological advancement in the 21st century is truly a marvel of human ingenuity and occurs at such a rapid rate that often times new technologies are outdated before any sort of intellectual property rights can even be granted to their respective owners.  Barring the unfortunate instances when this occurs, protecting these technologies sooner rather than later can be an invaluable step towards their commercial success.  This holds true whether you’re the green CEO of a brand new website, or Neil Young just looking for a way to bring a better musical experience to the masses.  Such is the case that Mr. Young, one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers, applied for six different trademarks all pertaining to “high resolution audio recordings”; 1080p for MP3’s anyone?


Mr. Young is well known for despising the music industry’s lackadaisical attitude towards current audio formats, saying that MP3’s nowadays fail to pick up on a lot of the nuances that were easily detected and reproduced on hard copy formats such as 8-tracks and vinyl discs.  Currently, MP3’s only contain about 5% of the information that is generated in-studio when recording; the other 95% is lost due to poor CD burning techniques and the loss of information when a file is compressed and subsequently decompressed.  It would appear that Neil has a strong desire to rectify this problem, and bring back the “golden age” of recorded audio tracks.


These six trademarks, all filed on June 6, 2011, appear to be hinting towards a possible in-the-near-future release of Mr. Young’s new audio recording/playback format, codenamed “Pono” (though none of the applications reference this name).  Speculation suggests that current technologies, including the advancements in internet speeds, computers with lightning fast processors, and cloud-computing, all indicate that now is the perfect time to release the new audio format reported to bring studio quality sound to downloadable music.  If done right it may even be possible that one would simply need to sign up for an account on some website, download a small browser plug-in, and then stream perfect, studio quality music from cloud-based servers; thus forgoing the need to store large files on your own computer’s disk space.

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