Thursday, October 07, 2004

If you can smell this, you're infringing my patent.

A Slashdot post clued me in to the new potential for taste and smell intellectual property:
Dr. Richard Axel and Dr. Linda B. Buck won the [Nobel Prize in medicine] for scientifically describing how odor-sensing proteins in the nose translate specific tastes and smells into information in the brain. Patenting smells in the past was limited to describing the chemical composition of the substance. Receptor patterning opens the door for a variety of new patenting possibilities... Perhaps more important will be the decision as to whether smells can be trademarked as symbols of the products or services they represent. Sounds and colors are commonly trademarked today because of the commercial impression they leave on consumers.
If some of that were to go through and/or be upheld, customers could then search for and distinguish between products based on, you guessed it, odor. I smell problems and unfortunate potential.