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Stop Making Scents?

By: Charles Cronin and Claire Guillemin
Posted: April 22, 2014, from the May 2014 issue of P&F magazine.

The fragrance industry is commonly known for the production of costly perfumes, but its greatest assets are the intellectual properties behind these tangible creations. The most valuable of these are fragrance formulas, any one of which may cost several hundred thousands of dollars and require more than a year to develop.

The distinctive brand names and elegant packaging of fi ne fragrances obtain legal protection as trademarks. Innovative manufacturing and delivery methods, as well as “captive” fragrant molecules, are protected by patents that provide an exclusive right to exploit the method or molecule for 20 years. Patents provide strong protection—albeit for a limited time— but are not a viable alternative means of protection for fragrance formulas because only useful and novel inventions may be patented.

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