Your intellectual property tastes delicious

by Mathew on October 7, 2008 · 18 comments

This has to be my favourite intellectual property dispute ever: according to reports from a variety of sources, including Associated Press and Haaretz, a group known as the Association of Lebanese Industrialists is planning to file a lawsuit against the state of Israel for “stealing” traditional Lebanese delicacies such as hummus (which is spelled about seven different ways) as well as baba gannouj, falafels and tabouleh.

As it turns out, of course, Lebanon doesn’t actually own the trademark to such dishes, but the head of the ALI says he’s planning to file something, and once he gets the rights he’s going to sue someone (it’s not clear who). The precedent, apparently, is the case that Greece launched to get the exclusive EU rights to the term “feta” cheese.

The only wrinkle in the Lebanese plan? A number of other groups — including the Palestinians — claim they invented the dishes Lebanon wants to trademark (The Guardian says that tabouleh was developed in Ottoman Syria, including what is now Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan). Can’t they all just sit down and talk this one over?

  • VincentClement

    I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I know — I felt much the same way :-)

  • Gilliebee

    I fear for my beloved stuffed vine leaves!

  • http://InternetMarketingChick.com Melanie

    So, will people have to pay royalties after they cook their family a meal, or would this be limited to professional use of the food? :D

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I think eating would be fine, Melanie — but if you refer to the food in public, you would have to pay some kind of trademark licensing fee :-)

  • Pingback: Lebanon Claiming Only It Owns Hummus, Falafel, Tabouleh And Baba Gannouj | bitbucket.kylewelsh.com

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  • holigan7

    Thanks for sharing

    regards .

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  • http://falafellist.blogspot.com/ Rob

    This is sad. These foods are one fo the great ways that tastes can cross borders without any issues, and bring cultures together. On a brighter note, Ive just launched a blog for falafel lovers, that will include sources, recipes, adn other fun stuff. Checkus out and please leave a post! http://falafellist.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    There are earlier precedents, many countries laws acknowledge, for example, that “Champagnes” can only come from the Champagne region of France, and that anything else is sparkling wine.

  • jfeuillet

    Between champagne and hummus, the choice is not hard, but I won't pay Lebanon a dime for making hummus.

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    There are earlier precedents, many countries laws acknowledge, for example, that “Champagnes” can only come from the Champagne region of France, and that anything else is sparkling wine.

  • jfeuillet

    Between champagne and hummus, the choice is not hard, but I won't pay Lebanon a dime for making hummus.

  • http://twitter.com/cassiopeia160/statuses/4432521308 cassiopeia160 (Melina E)

    Twitter Comment


    IP tastes funny. Should we copyright food? ie. fetta = greek, hummus = lebanese, laksa = malaysian [link to post] http://bit.ly/Aq7R8 ?

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