What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I’m always morbidly fascinated by the strangeness of human behavior. Today’s example is the observation that lawyers will never cease to engage in their predatory, symbiotic relationship with those people who have no common sense. Thanks to Joan Elaine, I just read about an alleged incident in which Josh Lobb of Slumberhouse Perfumes received a letter from a lawyer representing Strange Invisible Perfumes ordering him to desist from the use of the word “strange” in his description of his fragrances or be faced with a lawsuit. For anyone who shares my morbid curiosity, here’s the document that was posted.

Of course, my first reaction to any incident like this is that it must be a practical joke. Maybe the joke is in poor taste and potentially damaging to all concerned if taken seriously, but a joke just the same, perpetrated by some unnamed party. If it’s not, it is indeed a strange reaction to the use of a common, perfectly innocent English word, and a sad commentary on the strange lengths to which lawyers will go to make a buck.

Somewhere on his website, Josh uses the phrase “strange and unique perfumes” to describe his products. According to the letter that he posted on Twitter, Ms. B of SIP took offense at his use of the word “strange”, which allegedly is protected as part of the “Strange Invisible Perfumes” trademark, and hired a strange, invisible lawyer to put a stop to his use of the word “strange”. By the same reasoning, the words “invisible” and “perfumes” would presumably be individually trademarked as well. Uh-oh. We have probably all used the word “perfumes” in our company names or product descriptions, little knowing that the word was the exclusive property of SIP. What about the “Invisible Fence” company, whose name for their dog containment system is trademarked? Can they sue SIP (or vice versa) for the use of the word “invisible”?

I looked up the Twitter thread, read the letter that was posted, and did a little bit of Google research on the lawyer in question, only to find that she seems to have no official business listing, and the address on the letter appears to be a drab suburban residence. There’s nothing wrong with working out of one’s home – many of us do it - but that’s not the typical pretentious behavior of lawyers, most of whom have slick websites and posh offices. In fact, it supports the practical joke hypothesis. An alternative hypothesis is that maybe it’s all just a pathetic publicity stunt on the part of one or more of the parties in question. After all, it’s a well-known fact that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.

So given the fact that it’s not really clear what’s going on, why am I writing about this topic at all? Because the third, albeit most improbable-seeming, hypothesis is that it’s really true and not just an urban legend in the making. I hope that with time, more shall be revealed so that whatever nasty worms have been released from the proverbial can will come back to settle on the deserving party or parties.  In the meantime, maybe we should laugh because the situation is so outlandishly funny, cry at people’s general stupidity, and fantasize about Dick the Butcher’s famous suggestion about what to do with lawyers in Shakespeare’s Henry VI. 

[Thanks to Wikimedia for the can of worms image and for all three "strange" graphics used here, including Liquid Stranger's cover art for The Invisible Conquest (wow - strange, invisible and liquid, all in one spot!)]


  1. A few years ago I was the victim of a REAL trademark infringement. My complete business name/trademark of 35 years was used word for word as another business' web address. This has become such a common (and of course illegal) practice that there is even an acronym for it (which I can't remember right now). I had to get an attorney. Eventually the problem was sorted out to my satisfaction. What is really annoying is that if someone steals another's trademark name in order to generate online business all the burden of proof is on the victim.

    1. Gail, it's unfortunate that frivolous accusations do a huge disservice to those who are the true victims of intellectual property theft, as you were. When too many people cry "wolf" without cause, the burden of proof is shifted to the victim so that damage can be done before the issue is ever resolved. I'm glad you succeeded in resolving your case, but it must have cost a lot in terms of both money and stress.