The Court of Justice of the EU was recently asked to rule on whether the taste of a food could be a “work” in terms of the EU Directive on copyright in the information society (Directive 2001/29/EC). If a taste could be a work then it could in principle be protected by copyright. The context was a case for infringement brought by Levola Hengelo BV, manufacturer of a cheese called Heksenkaas against a rival food company, Smilde Foods BV, manufacturers of Witte Wievenkaas (C310/17).
As reported by the Kluwer copyright blog,the court ruled that taste of a cheese could not be regarded as a “work” for copyright purposes because it was a requirement that the subject matter of a “work” must be represented in a manner that makes it identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity and the taste of Heksenkaas did not meet those criteria. So is that a case of hard cheese for Heksenkaas?