Courts refuse trademark on strawberry fragrance

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Odor, Olfaction

The European Union and Luxembourg high courts have ruled that
French fragrance company Eden will not be able to trademark the
smell of strawberries in an effort to market it for a range of
cosmetics products.

An attempt to trademark the smell was dismissed by the European trademark agency, which then forced the company to take the case to the European high courts.

According to a number of press reports, the company had argued that the smell of strawberries was generic, meaning that it could be trademarked like any other product. Eden described the smell as being "stable and durable"

Contrary to this, a panel of experts commissioned by the high courts in Luxembourg found that strawberries can in fact have up to five distinct scents, depending on their ripeness as well as different varieties.

The courts drew on evidence revolving around the human olfactory memory, which allows individuals to sense minute differences in smells and to send messages to the brain in order to distinguish them.

"The olfactory memory is probably the most reliable memory that humans possess and that, consequently, economic operators have a clear interest in using olfactory signs to identify their goods, it is nevertheless the case that a graphic representation of a sign must enable the sign to be precisely identified in order to ensure the sound operation of the trademark registration system,"​ The judges said in their report.

Paris-based Eden had been hoping to secure the trademark for a host of cosmetic products - including soaps and face cream - together with a number of luxury goods, including stationery, leather products and clothing.

In the past attempts have been made to trademark a number of aromas in Europe, including lemon, vanilla and raspberry, but these bids have also failed.

According to an Associated Press report, the only scent to have been successfully trademarked has been the smell of fresh-cut grass, which is currently registered to a Dutch company that uses it to perfume tennis balls.

Other concessions have been made by UK lawmakers in recent years, where trademarks have been granted for a floral fragrance applied to tyres and a beer fragrance that has been applied to flights for darts.

Related topics: Fragrance

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