Court of Justice of the European Union agrees with Royal Smilde Foods › Royal Smilde

Court of Justice of the European Union agrees with Royal Smilde Foods

13-11-2018

For several years now, Royal Smilde Foods has been involved in legal proceedings initiated by Levola in 2014.

Levola asserts that the taste of its product Heks'nkaas is protected by copyright and that Royal Smilde Food's Wilde Wietze Dip infringes on this right. Levola sued Royal Smilde Foods, lost in first instance and appealed. The Court of Appeal referred questions to the European Court of Justice, the highest Court in Europe, asking if there can be copyright in a taste.

Today, the European Court of Justice agreed with Royal Smilde Foods that the taste of food products cannot be protected, because it cannot be identified with precision and objectivity. In accordance with Royal Smilde Food's argumentation, the European Court of Justice held that unlike, for example, a literary, pictorial, cinematographic or musical work, which is a precise and objective expression, the taste of a food product will be identified on the basis of taste sensations and experiences, which are subjective and variable. They depend on, amongst other things, factors particular to the person tasting the product concerned, such as age, food preferences and consumption habits, as well as on the environment or context in which the product is consumed. It is the first time that the European Court of Justice decides on the question whether taste can be protected by copyright.

Royal Smilde is very pleased with the decision of the European Court of Justice and trusts that the decision will help resolve its dispute with Levola. However, this decision is not only relevant for Royal Smilde, but also eliminates the fear that something that has been free for centuries (creation of a taste) could be monopolised.

Press release from the Court of Justice of the European Union

Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber)

For more information, please contact De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, mr. Selmer Bergsma (selmer.bergsma@debrauw.com)

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