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Keep Your Nose Off My Smell

The global marketplace comprises thousands of languages. Thankfully intellectual property protection for sounds and smells now transcends polyglotonomy (ok I just made that word up). The race to protect sounds and smells with trademarks and copyrights is definitely heating up. Countries like China are filing new trademark applications in record numbers, looking to snatch up heretofore unprotected intellectual property such as sounds and smells.

Last March, Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) thought the issue was important enough to include provisions for “non-visible” trademarks in the latest international treaty. The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks now defines a framework for reproducing of non-visible marks, such as sound and smell marks.

For more info on this burgeoning topic, check the TTABlog’s post on the protection of sound marks and and this WIPO article on obtaining a copyright on a smell. The TTABlog also has a link to a comprehensive article by Kevin McCormick published in the Sept-Oct edition of The Trademark Reporter on the registration of sounds as trademarks. Very interesting reading — even if you are not a trademark lawyer.

Brett Trout

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