You Gotta be F%$#ing Kidding

Quoting Palmer from The Thing

Someone actually tried to copyright the taste of a specific of cheese, and it actually made to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

IP claims are completely out of hand:

A Dutch cheese company tried to claim that it had a monopoly on the taste of a cheese spread. The Court of Justice of the European Union weighed arguments from two competing food producers, and decided on Tuesday that a taste cannot be copyrighted.

Taste is “an idea,” rather than an “expression of an original intellectual creation,” the court ruled. And something that cannot be defined precisely cannot be copyrighted, it ruled.

The case was brought in the Netherlands, but it had been referred to the European court to make a ruling that would apply across the bloc. Levola Hengelo, a Dutch food producer, had sued Smilde Foods, another Dutch manufacturer, for infringing its copyright over the taste of a cheese spread.

The Levola product, known as Heks’nkaas, or Witches Cheese, is made of cream cheese and herbs and vegetables including parsley, leek and garlic. Smilde’s herbed cheese dip, which contained many of the same ingredients, was called Witte Wievenkaas, a name that also makes reference to witches. It is now sold as Wilde Wietze Dip.

Levola argued that the taste of food, like literary, scientific or artistic works, can be copyrighted. The company cited a 2006 case involving Lancôme, the cosmetics company, that had accepted in principle that the scent of a perfume could be eligible for copyright protection.


Well, there was no cheese tasting. But it agreed with Smilde that the taste of the cheese could not be defined with enough precision and objectivity to make it clear to other companies where they might be overstepping the mark.


To be protected by copyright, a work must be an “expression” of an original intellectual creation.

“Copyright isn’t supposed to be used to stop the spread and use of ideas,” said Joshua Marshall, an intellectual property lawyer at the European law firm Fieldfisher. “The taste of a leek-and-garlic cheese is really an idea.”

Copyright is supposed to “promote the progress of science and useful arts,” not to be used as an anti-competitive weapon to be used against competitors.

IP naturally has an anti-competitive effect, but that is a cost of the promotion of creativity, not a benefit.

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