This week Hasbro, the internationally renown toy company, has been granted trademark rights to the very particular smell of Play-Doh, describing the smell as a “sweet, slightly musky, vanilla fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, combined with the smell of a salted, wheat-based dough.”
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted Hasbro a trademark for the scent of Play-Doh. Meaning this smell, which you would recognise almost immediately if you played with Play-Doh when you were younger, is now officially property of Hasbro.
Commenting on this matter and whether it might work in the UK, Matt Jones, Partner at leading IP law firm EIP, had this to say: “Trademarking a scent can certainly make sense in the business world. In this case, the scent of Play-Doh might cause one to recall fond childhood memories, and may serve as a powerful badge of origin for parents. So you can understand why Hasbro would like to protect this aspect of its product to ensure others cannot simply copy it.
Trademarking a scent may make business sense, but one would question whether this would be legally possible in either the UK or the EU. While in the US they seem to have obtained a trademark based on a written description of the scent, this would be harder to do here. To get a trademark here, you have to represent your sign in a clear, precise, objective, accessible, intelligible and durable way. The chances of Hasbro being able to use the same language to get a trademark here are slim because, amongst other things, it would probably not be deemed clear, precise and objective. Filing a sample of the aromatic stuff in question probably would not work either, as that might not be accessible or durable enough. Even a full chemical structure would probably not be sufficient, as that would probably not be intelligible in terms of representing the smell in question. It will be interesting to see if they pursue a scent mark in the UK or EU and, if so, what approach they decide to take.”