Fracking Company Attempts To Trademark A Smell

By Joseph Mandour on April 20, 2015

fracking2San Diego – Trademark officials in Virginia recently received an unusual specimen for a Trademark Application. Instead of visual examples that they are accustomed to, they were hand-delivered vials containing a liquid with an orange scent.

“Eau de fracking” was created by Flotek Industries, Inc. a Texas company that extracts oil and gases from deep within the earth via “hydraulic-fracturing” fluids.

Flotek would like to Trademark its product’s scent to protect the orange smell that many customers associate with the brand. Though uncommon and somewhat difficult to obtain, it is possible to achieve trademark protection in a smell.

Verizon Wireless is one owner of a registered trademark for a scent. Verizon was recently able to Trademark a “flowery musk” scent that is sprayed in several stores across the country.

Eddy Finn Ukulele Co. was also successful in registering a scent based trademark. The company doused its instrument strings in a pina colada aroma, which became more apparent when the strings were plucked. The company’s largest issue in registering the trademark was that the string smell had a short shelf-life and was mostly gone once the ukuleles were internationally shipped.

Just as many logos and symbols play a large branding role for consumers, the idea that smells could do the same may be gaining some steam. In order for a scent to become a registered trademark, the scent must serve primarily to help distinguish a brand. Perfumes and colognes serve as more than that, and therefore are unlikely to be eligible for a trademark.

The possibility of a scent based trademark application would pose more issues internationally. For protection in the European Union, geography plays a significant role in brand protection. It is debatable whether or not a scent could be associated with a geographic location and with this, whether or not it would be able to become a trademark.

Science has also proved that smells can be a very powerful sense and are very influential in memory and decision making. Associating a smell with a brand could become a growing tool for companies to use to promote or sell a product.

However, a question posed by many adversaries to a scent trademarks is that senses are not objective, and the possibility of a smell varying from person to person could pose bigger problems for brand protection.

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