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?

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Mathew 2416 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

18 Responses to “Your intellectual property tastes delicious”
  1. Lebanese group claims only Lebanon “owns” #hummus, #falafel, #tabouleh, & #babagannouj. http://is.gd/3Lh3

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

  3. I fear for my beloved stuffed vine leaves!

  4. 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

    • 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 :-)

  5. […] can sell “Champagne” or Greece being the only one allowed to offer “feta,” a group in Lebanon is claiming that various popular middle eastern foods such as hummus, falafel, tabouleh and baba gannou… are property of Lebanon and Lebanon alone. In fact, the group is planning to sue Israel for […]

  6. […] can sell “Champagne” or Greece being the only one allowed to offer “feta,” a group in Lebanon is claiming that various popular middle eastern foods such as hummus, falafel, tabouleh and baba gannou… are property of Lebanon and Lebanon alone. In fact, the group is planning to sue Israel for […]

  7. […] Here’s one for humor. Apparently, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists is suing the state of Israel over claims to foods such as hummus, falafel, and tabouleh. I actually enjoy some of these foods. If this goes through (highly unlikely, but anything’s possible), guess I’ll have to go to the Lebanon Whole Foods to buy my garbanzo bean spread. […]

  8. […] or Greece being the only one allowed to offer “feta,” a group in Lebanon is claiming that various popular middle eastern foods such as hummus, falafel, tabouleh and baba gannou… are property of Lebanon and Lebanon alone. In fact, the group is planning to sue Israel for […]

  9. Thanks for sharing

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  10. 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/

  11. 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.

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

  12. 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.

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

  14. Twitter Comment


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

    Posted using Chat Catcher

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