Legal Q&A

Your food and drink legal questions answered

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Can a smell be copyrighted, and where should you turn when selecting forklift suppliers?
Can a smell be copyrighted, and where should you turn when selecting forklift suppliers?
From copyrighting taste and smell, to choosing the right forklift suppliers, our experts answer your pressing food and drink legal questions.

Could a company copyright the taste or smell of a food or drink product?

A case referred to as Levola v Smilde, which is seeking to definitively answer the question of whether there is copyright in the taste or smell of food, is making its way to the European Court of Justice.

Advocate General Melchior Wathelet has advised that copyright does not subsist in the sensorial aspects of food.

This is a really interesting opinion that should be read closely by those with a vested interest in the food industry. Arguably, if copyright protection were to be granted for the taste and smell of food, it would be difficult for businesses and individuals to understand their legal position.

That would be due to the problems inherent in both fixing and identifying a ‘true’ taste and flavour for each individual product.

Under a worst-case scenario, this would have the potential to stifle creativity and could lead to the situation we are seeing in the music industry, with a spate of cases seeking to litigate against similar-sounding songs that derive influence from the same sources.

While copyright may subsist in a recipe for food that is recorded in a fixed form, Wathelet does also leave the door open to copyright protection for the sensorial aspects of food in the future if technological advances allow sensory experiences to be fixed in a precise and objective manner.

Giles Parsons is associate and intellectual property specialist at law firm Browne Jacobson.

What do I need to think about when selecting forklift truck suppliers?

One of the most common pitfalls is the belief that all dealers are created equal. It’s material handling’s biggest mistake and it’s an easy one to make.

By creating this ‘level’ playing field, you overlook crucial details, such as accreditations, registration and standards of working. Typically, you are entering into a contract that could last at least five years.

Think for a moment about the last time you were contacted – with no prior warning – by a supplier. Were they hoping to provide you with expert advice and exceptional service as part of a complete package? Or were they simply hoping to profit, while delivering the minimum in return?

Sometimes that difference isn’t so clear. We regularly hear reports of suppliers who won’t specify a truck they don’t currently hold in stock – even if it’s the most suitable truck for the task at hand.

A company like this would find it tough suggesting you could reduce fleet size, wouldn’t it? They would. But it’s not their fault. After all, their job is to make money.

To ensure coverage against every eventuality, Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) members must carry significant, documented public and liability cover; use FLTA-approved contracts and follow quality-controlled procedures to ensure fair and prompt handling of complaints.

By choosing an FLTA member, you can be confident that you are working on the right side of the law and, when your truck arrives on-site, you can rest assured it’s in good working condition.

Peter Harvey is chief executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association.

If you have a legal question that you want answered, send it over to us via email.

Related topics: Regulation, Supply Chain

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