EU Court: Taste Alone Not Copyrightable

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Nov 15, 2018

Food processors cannot copyright a product’s taste without identifying other aspects that support its claims to uniqueness, the European Union’s highest legal authority has ruled.

The European Court of Justice ruled in a dispute between two Dutch cheesemakers that taste alone is too “subjective and variable” to be the basis of a copyright. The ruling stated that to be copyrighted, a food must be an original intellectual creation and be “identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity.”

The case involved a spreadable herb-flavored cream cheese called Heksenkaas. Its creator sold it to Levola, which sued when another cheese called Witte Wievenkaas came on the market. The case eventually wound up with the European Court of Justice, which found in favor of Smilde, the maker of Witte Wievenkaas.

BBC News reports that the EU high court has ruled on other food cases in the last couple of years, including Kit Kat candy bars, tofu and champagne-flavored sorbet.