The Emergence and Development of Intellectual Property Law in the Middle East
Rochelle C Dreyfuss & Justine Pila (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Intellectual Property Law 378-408 (2018)
32 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2016 Last revised: 18 May 2020
Date Written: April 21, 2016
The Eurocentric term ‘Middle East’ captures the historical sources and the emergence of Intellectual Property (IP) in this region. The initial European (British and French, replacing the Ottoman Empire) influence had a long lasting effect, and its laws, sometimes reformulated into local laws, are still in force in large parts of the region. In the mid-1990s the European dominance was taken over by newer winds of globalization. The global replaced the colonial, with new demands. Both the colonial IP and the globalized IP legal frameworks were mostly indifferent to local needs, and imposed a ‘one size fits all’ approach, allowing a rather narrow leeway for the local interests. Thus, Middle Eastern IP law is a case of western legal transplants, which by now have been absorbed within the recipient local legal systems. However, the insertion of a law from one jurisdiction into another is a process rather than a one-time event, and in the course of its assimilation, the transplanted law itself changes. This Chapter explores the emergence and development of IP law in the Middle East as a case of a western legal transplant.
Politics, economics and culture have invariably affected the practice of the law. Instead of a rather technocratic doctrinal approach that compares the law in a given country to the international standards and asks about ‘compliance’, we advocate a richer evaluation of a country’s IP regime. In assessing IP laws against global standards, one should inquire whether the law emerged from within this country, or was imposed upon it. In the latter case, the assessment should contextualize IP within the larger legal framework, along with constitutional law (especially freedom of expression), contract and property law, antitrust, tax and corporate law, as well as principles of unjust enrichment, good faith and the like. The assessment should take into consideration the political economy, local and global politics, and the country’s unique cultural needs.
We focus on several countries, each illustrating a different mix of legal, economic, political, and cultural factors. We discuss Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We focus on the three main branches of IP laws: copyright, patents, and trademarks.
Keywords: Middle East, Intellectual Property, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, globalization, colonization, legal transplants
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