This collaborative presentation brings cutting edge research from experimental psychology into conversation with trade mark law. Based on extensive experimental evidence and his experiences as a consultant, Professor Charles Spence will describe how brains manage to process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) and the implications this has for product design as well as marketing. Images, shapes, scents, sounds and colours are consciously and carefully selected for their perceptual and behavioural effects on consumers. Dr Dev Gangjee will then consider the implications of these experimental insights, when it comes to the recognition of non-conventional trade marks for colours, shapes and sounds, as well as the scope of protection which they ought to be entitled to.

Dr Dev Gangjee is Director of the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre and researches on all aspects of trade mark law and brands. Non-traditional trade marks, including shapes, colours and product packaging, have been a long-standing research interest

Professor Charles Spence is a world-famous experimental psychologist with a specialization in neuroscience-inspired multisensory design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies across the globe since establishing the Crossmodal Research Laboratory (CRL) at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University in 1997. Prof. Spence has published over 850 articles and edited or authored, 10 academic volumes including, in 2014, the Prose prize-winning “The perfect meal”, and the recent bestseller “Gastrophysics: The new science of eating” (2017; Penguin Viking). Much of Prof. Spence’s work focuses on the design of enhanced multisensory food and drink experiences, through collaborations with chefs, baristas, mixologists, perfumiers, and the food and beverage, and flavour and fragrance industries. Prof. Spence has also worked extensively on the question of how technology will transform our dining experiences in the future.


Each year the OIPRC hosts a number of leading academics from around the world as part of its Invited Speaker Series. These events typically run from 5:15-6:45pm on Thursday evenings at St. Peter’s College; if the venue or time is different, it will be noted on the Events calendar.  The Speaker Series consists of a presentation of about 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the assembled group of academic staff, students (both undergraduate and graduate), researchers, and interested members of the public.  Discussion is informal and includes participants from several disciplines, with a wide range of prior knowledge.

Convenors: Dev Gangjee and Robert Pitkethly