Generally, trademarks are thought of as a word, phrase, or picture that identifies the source of a product or service. However, trademarks can also include shapes, sounds, flavor, and feel of a product. Although more difficult to register, even the smell or scent of a product can be trademarked. According to the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, the scent of a product may be registered if used in a nonfunctional manner, and the amount of evidence that a scent or fragrance functions as a mark is substantial. See TMEP §1202.13.
Hasbro recently applied for trademark protection for the scent of its Play-doh product. Most of us know the scent of Play-doh. In its application, Hasbro described the scent as “a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough.”
Hasbro’s trademark application shows that businesses are increasingly protecting their intellectual property. As long as the mark is nonfunctional and distinctive, a business can obtain trademarks other than the usual word or graphic marks.
Hasbro’s application can be found here: Hasbro Trademark application.