Michael Birnhack, ‘The Emergence of a Brand: A Case of Jaffa Oranges from Mandate Palestine’

The Shamouti oranges grown along the Mediterranean coast of Palestine under the British Mandate (1922-1948) sparkled in European markets in the 1920s and 1930s. The oranges were known as Jaffa Oranges, or Jaffas, and gained economic importance during the Mandate. Today, the Jaffa Oranges brand is contested and has opposite national meanings for Israelis and Palestinians. This chapter explores the emergence of the brand, when Jews and Arabs worked alongside each other and on occasion together, albeit with growing national tensions.

The brand emerged in a multi-layered industry, with different kinds of competition in each of its segments: growers, traders, and foreign markets, and in a triangular legal setting. The law did not protect geographical indications, leaving JAFFA ORANGES free to all to use. The law did offer protection for distinctive trademarks. During the British Mandate, 102 trademarks for oranges were registered, by both Jewish and Arab growers and traders. Two-thirds of which used the geographical brand. Finally, a regulatory scheme established to assure the quality of the citrus exports, acted as a de facto certification, and resulted in numerous unregistered marks, known as markas.

This chapter offers a legal history analysis of the JAFFA ORANGES brand, by examining archival material and data from a reconstructed trademark registry of the period, along a legal inquiry, contextualized within the economic and national situation.

Birnhack, Michael D, The Emergence of a Brand: A Case of Jaffa Oranges from Mandate Palestine (August 18, 2021) in Research Handbook on the History of Trademark Law (Lionel Bently and Robert Bone, eds, Edward Elgar) (2022, forthcoming).

First posted 2021-09-27 11:00:49

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