Patenting Sensory Experiences?

Hi Everyone,

A colleague and I were having a brief discussion around design patents and we were wondering about patenting sensory experiences… Touch, Taste, Scent, and Sound. These sensory experiences would be a part of a physical / digital product design. These sensory experiences could be a stand-alone feature or potentially providing another layer to the overall product interaction.

Is it possible to patent such features as a Design Patent or maybe as a Trademark? Curious if anyone has patented anything along these lines…



You have to step back and think about what specifically is novel about the experience and see if that would qualify for a patent along with “why is this worth spending money to patent? Who would invest resources and compromise our product by knowing this”.

For example, there are some patents that cover specific scented products. “EG Toilet seat that smells like flowers”. There are also ways to patent the method in which you are creating the taste/scent/sound if it is novel.

But if you’re trying to patent a combination of factors which may not be novel on their known, this is effectively a combo patent and is generally not accepted or enforceable. Remember that patents are only as good as the team of lawyers sitting in the back office ready to enforce it. You may be better off leveraging trade secrets to protect your secret combination rather than disclosing the approach if it’s actually novel.

Most anything is patentable, depends on how tight of a claim you want.

Whether you want to patent a sensory experience (and I don’t see why this wouldn’t be possible), or anything for that matter, is entirely dependent on your company’s IP strategy. I would suggest asking your company’s expert in IP law and not designers. I would suggest asking your company’s CEO for IP strategy and again, not designers.

Seeing as how ‘experience’ is an individual interpretation of an interaction with something (UI, UX, scented toilet seat, etc.), it seems like that would be a tough patent to own. How many times have people used an object in a method outside of the designer’s intent? Would that invalidate the experience patent?
Experience Patents seems like it could be a rich area for ownership, if possible…

The design patent pertains to industrial design and covers shape, surface and the configuration.
But you can request TM protection. Any sign that distinguishes one company from another falls under Trademark law according to the WTO.
A sign, if we look at C.S. Peirce’s original definition would be anything that can represent your business.
So a person can in fact also be a trademark if you want to liaise yourself to one particular company.