Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The taste of food cannot be copyrighted, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday -- in the case of a Dutch cheese maker that sued a competitor for infringement.
Levola, the maker of the cheese product Heksenkaas, which means "witches' cheese," said its taste was protected under the European Union's copyright directive.
Levola said rival Smilde violated that copyright with its product, Witte Wievenkaas.
Heksenkaas has been sold since 2007, but Levola sued when Smilde started selling Witte Wievenkaas four years ago, claiming the products were too similar.
Tuesday, the European Court of Justice ruled in the landmark case. It said science has not yet advanced enough to determine a precise and objective identification of what comprises a particular taste.
"Taste of a food product cannot be identified with precision and objectivity," the court said in its ruling. "Unlike, for example, a literary, pictorial, cinematographic or musical work, which is a precise and objective expression, the taste of a food product will be identified essentially on the basis of taste sensations and experiences, which are subjective and variable."
The court heard the case on appeal from a Netherlands regional appellate court, the Gerechtshof Arnhem-Leeuwarden.