Thursday 6 November 2014

Is there copyright in the taste of a cheese?

Roland Wigman
From invariably original (not necessarily solely in the sense of the originality requirement) Dutch litigants might soon come the answer to this question.

1709 Blog friend Roland Wigman (Versteeg Wigman Sprey) explains what is happening:

"In the US they have attempted to register the taste of pizza as a trademark [here], but now in The Netherlands copyright is claimed in the taste of cheese.

The manufacturer of "Heks'nkaas" (which roughly translates as 'Witches' cheese), a cheesespread with herbs, is suing its competitor Smilde Foods. Smilde Foods is the manufacturer of a cheaper product called "Witte Wievenkaas" ('White Wives' cheese, 'white wives' being the name for the strings of mist over the meadows in the early morning). 

Cheesy or just cheese?
Heks'nkaas claims copyright in the taste (and scent) of its cheese and refers to the judgment of the Hoge Raad (Supreme Court) in 2006 in which the Hoge Raad said there was copyright in the scent of a perfume.

The battle will take place before the district court of Midden Nederland (Arnhem). This court has to decide whether the taste of cheesespread with leek and garlic meets the threshold of originality [but is it a 'work' in the first place?]

The parties have secured top legal aid: Heks'nkaas is represented by Klos Morel Vos & Schaap and Smilde Foods is represented by De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.  

A judgment is not expected before summer 2015."

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