Levola Hengelo BV v Smilde Foods BV: The Hard Work of Defining a Copyright Work

Jani McCutcheon


The Court of Justice of the European Union’s judgement in Levola Hengelo BV v Smilde Foods BV ruled that the taste of food cannot be protected as a copyright work under EU copyright law. This note describes the issues in the primary dispute concerning the claim of copyright in the taste of cheese, the reasoning of Advocate General M. Wathelet who advised the CJEU, and the reasoning of the CJEU in its broad concurrence with the AG. It then critiques the CJEU’s judgement, which is surprisingly brief, considering the gravity of the question, which probes the boundaries of the copyright work under EU law. The note explains the many opportunities that were overlooked by the court in its brief judgement, attempts to unravel some of the more ambiguous aspects of the judgement, and assesses the merit and utility of the court’s primary pronouncement that a copyright work must be objectively identifiable.

Published September 2019
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 82
Issue 5
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2230