Making Sense of the Nonsensical: A look at Scent Trademarks and their Complexities
Hasbro’s recent application to trademark the scent of Play-Doh is an example of how companies in the digital age market their products and protect their market share by using an complex intellectual property strategies. As more companies begin to implement nontraditional branding into their marketing strategies, they face legal uncertainties of how the law protects this form of intellectual property. Unfortunately, what qualifies as a legitimate scent mark remains opaque. This article will review the requirements of scent trademarks and discuss the complications associated with various aspects of these marks, including (1) the functionary doctrine; (2) the issue of scent subjectivity; (3) administrative and application difficulties; (4) the possibility of scent depletion; and (5) the uncertain benefits of scent trademarks.