Owen Dean

Professor Owen H Dean

Emeritus Professor of IP Law & Research Fellow of the Faculty of Law

Tel: +27(0) 21 808 3561/9371

Email: o.dean@spoor.com


Professor Owen Dean holds the degrees BA (Law), LLB and LLD from Stellenbosch University, obtained in, respectively, 1964, 1966 and 1989. He was admitted to practice as an attorney and notary in South Africa in 1974 and is also admitted as an attorney in Namibia and Botswana.

He is a previous Senior Partner, presently a consultant, of Spoor and Fisher, leading Intellectual Property Attorneys in South Africa. His personal fields of specialisation include trade mark and copyright law with a special emphasis on litigation and opinion work.

A few of his most notable cases included:

  • The establishment of the principle that trading in grey goods constituted an infringement of copyright in the Paramount Pictures case and the Frank & Hirsch v Roopanand Brothers case before the (then) Appellate division.
  • The only successful matter for trade mark infringement by parallel importation in the Sony case (Television Radio Centre v Sony Corporation (A)).
  • The introduction of the Anton Piller order into South African law, and its successful defence before the Supreme Court of Appeal in Universal City Studios v Network Video (A).
  • The establishment of the principle of recognition of character merchandising as a basis for passing off in the FIFA v Bartlett case.
  • The formulation of the civil law cause of action based on ambush marketing and the first successful ambush marketing case in the FIFA/Eastern Tavern matter.
  • The first and, to date, only case brought on the basis of a well-known foreign trade mark in the McDonalds Corporation v Joburgers Drive-Inn Restaurant case.
  • The establishment of the principle that market survey evidence is admissible in court in the same case before the Supreme Court of Appeal.
  • The case for copyright infringement based on the residual application of the British Imperial Copyright Act in South Africa in the matter of Disney Enterprises v Griesel for royalties to the songs Mbube/Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Owen served on the Government’s Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Law for twenty years and as Chairman of the Copyright Sub-Committee of that Committee and has served as a member of the international editorial boards of the peer-reviewed journals Copyright World and Entertainment Law Review. He is a past president of the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law and plays an active role as lawmaker in South Africa. He conceived, and chaired the Drafting Committee of, the Counterfeit Goods Act, drafted Section 15A of the Merchandise Marks Act (ambush marketing), served on the Drafting Committee for the Copyright Amendment Act of 1992 (which introduced protection for computer programs) and drafted the sui generis Protection of Traditional Knowledge Bill of 2013.

He is the author of the “Handbook of South African Copyright Law”, the chapter on “South Africa” in “International Privacy, Publicity and Personality Laws” edited by Michael Henry the chapter on “South Africa” in “Copyright: World Law and Practice” edited by Morag McDonald, Uma Suthersanen and Cristina Garrigues, co-author of the title “Copyright” in “Butterworths Forms and Precedents” and co-editor of Dean and Dyer’s Digest of Intellectual Property Law by Oxford University Press.

Owen published more than 100 articles in, inter alia, the following journals: Trademark World, Copyright World, Managing Intellectual Property, European Intellectual Property Review (EIPR), Entertainment Law Review, Canadian Intellectual Property Review, De Rebus, Tydskrif van die Hedendaagse Romeins Hollands Reg, South African Law Journal, Businessman’s Law, Stellenbosch Law Review, SA Mercantile Law Journal, Juta’s Business Law, Responsa Meridiana, and Encyclopaedia of Brands and Branding.

He is a frequent speaker on intellectual property matters at seminars and conferences, including at international meetings organised by International Trademarks Association (INTA), Institute of Trademark Agencies (ITMA), the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Association of Intellectual Property Professionals & Owners (AIPPO). Owen has lectured on intellectual property law at the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the University of Johannesburg.

He is appointed to the Panel of Adjudicators for South African Domain Name Disputes, the WIPO Panel of Arbitrators for Domain Name Disputes, Stellenbosch University’s Business School Panel of Mediators and the IP Panel of the Arbitration Federation of South Africa (AFSA).

He is listed as a Senior Statesman of Intellectual Property and a Key Individual of Spoor & Fisher by Chambers and Partners in 2012 and 2013 in the Global-Wide and Pan-Regional Sections of the Chambers Global Ranking. He has also been selected by his peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in South Africa in the practice area of Intellectual Property Law in 2014/15.

Owen is Emeritus Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the Faculty of Law, Stellenbosch University and was the first incumbent of the Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property Law until 2015.

Prof Dean is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Mercantile Law of the Faculty of Law.





HANDBOOK OF SOUTH AFRICAN COPYRIGHT LAW (First published by Juta, 1987).

BUTTERWORTHS’ FORMS AND PRECEDENTS – Copyright (Published by Butterworths, 1991).

AWAKENING THE LION – THE CASE OF THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT – Tafelberg Short Series (eBook) (Published by Tafelberg, 2013 FULL TEXT).

THE APPLICATION OF THE COPYRIGHT ACT, 1978, TO WORKS MADE PRIOR TO 1979 – Stellenbosch University (LLD Dissertation, 1988 FULL TEXT).

THE SUMMIT SYNDROME – novel (Published by AuthorhouseUK, 2017 MORE)






P. Loots, CONSTRUCTION LAW AND RELATED ISSUES – Chapter on Copyright (Published by Juta, 1995).

Macdonald, Suthersanen and Garrigues, COPYRIGHT: WORLD LAW & PRACTICE – Chapter on South Africa (Published by Thompson/Sweet & Maxwell, 2004).

C. Thorne, INTERNATIONAL DESIGN PROTECTION – Chapter on South Africa with Lodewyk Cilliers (Published by Globe Law and Business, 2012).




A perspective on intellectual property. 2009, p34-36 

Ambush marketing – virtue or vice? 2007, 58-61 

Keep the trade mark assignment baby when throwing out the bath water. 2004, p71-75 

Sponsorship under attack by ambush marketing. 2002, p33-37 

The outlook for trademarks into the third millennium. 2000, 54-62 

The value and valuation of trademarks. 1998, 19-21 



This illustrated portfolio of works is a record of the published works of the author compiled for the purposes of section 20 of the Copyright Act, 1978. The author gives notice of his moral rights in respect of these works and requires that they be recognised.

No work detailed in this record may be reproduced or otherwise dealt with in a manner falling within the copyright subsisting in it unless the relevant act is permitted by law or has been authorised by the publisher, whose identity may be ascertained from the copy comprised in the record.



Art: Is it really yours? Copyright in paintings. Vol 9, 1979, p33-34 

The employee and the copyright act. Vol 9, 1979, p71-72

The Copyright Act and the creative person – I: The background to copyright. Vol 8, 1979, p153-172 

The Copyright Act and the creative person – II: The Author and copyright. Vol 8, 1979, p171-172 

The Copyright Act and the creative person – III: Works that enjoy copyright. Vol 8, 1979, p188-190 

The Copyright Act and the creative person – IV: Aspects of copyright. Vol 8, 1979, p237-190 

The Copyright Act and the creative person – V: Rights of the author. Vol 9, 1980, p20-22  

Another Copyright Pitfall. Vol 9, 1980, p159-160 

Copyrights in employees’ works. Vol 11, 1981, p41-42 

Piracy of cinematograph films. Vol 11, 1981, p61-63 

Piracy of cinematograph films – II. Vol 11, 1982, p101-102 

SA’s constitutional future. Vol 15, 1985, p14 

What is worth copying is worth protecting. Vol 15, 1985, p73-74 

Trading in parallel imports: grey goods. Vol 15, 1986, p150-106 

Anton Piller orders: Recognition in South Africa. Vol 15, 1986, p186-188 

Infringement: Parallel importation and trademark infringement. Vol 17, 1987, p3-5 

Stealing foreign fruits – I: Passing-off.Vol 19, 1989, p7-9 

Stealing foreign fruits – II: Trade-mark and copyright infringement. Vol 19, 1989, p63-66 

Unlawful Competition: The roles of wrongfulness and dishonesty. Vol 20, 1990, p16-18 

Copying industrial products – II: Unlawful competition. Vol 19, 1990, p187-190 

Copying industrial products – I: Protection under copyright Vol 19, 1990, p159-162 

The Draft Design Bill, 1992: The registrable designs Vol 21, 1991, p22-24 

Innovations in copyright – The New Amendment Bill Vol 21, 1991, p 67 

Copying industrial products. Sitting on a stolen design: the copyright angle Vol 20, 1991, p141-143

Copying industrial products. Unlawful competition in the Bress Designs case Vol 20, 1991, p177-180 

Copyright protection as a literary or artistic work Vol 21, 1992, p138-140 

Who owns the soul of a painting? Two distinct forms of Property Vol 21, 1992, p 243 



Design Copyright in South Africa, 1989 p, 343



Unlawful competition – A substitute for infringement of copyright in technical works? Iss 9, Mar/Apr 1990, p21-24 

South Africa Amends Copyright Act Issue 23, Jul/Aug 1992, p38-43 

Infringement of copyright by dealing in parallel imports: Application of the principle in recent South African, Australian and Singapore cases Iss 41, Jun 1994, p19-26 

Protection of the author’s moral rights in South Africa Iss 59, Apr 1996, p38-44

Sound recordings in South Africa – the Cinderella of the copyright family Iss 34, Oct 1998,  p18-23 

Return of the Lion: South African Litigation over “the Leon Sleeps Tonight” Iss 165, Nov 2006, p23-24 



Affidavits executed abroad for use in South Africa Aug 1973, p323-326 

Registration of copyright in Cinematograph Film Act Nov 1977, p701-703 

Changes to the law of copyright brought by the Copyright Act 98 of 1978 Apr 1979, p192-193 

Registration of copyright in cinematography films Aug 1981, p370-373 

Copyright Amendment Act, 1983. Protection of industrial and technical works Mar 1984, p114-115 

Copyright infringement as a criminal offence Mar 1988, p203-210 

The great copyright controversy Jul 1988, p469-474 

Caveat disinvestor Jul 1989, p511-514 

Copyright Amendment Act, 1992 Oct 1992, p755-760 

Sound recordings in South Africa: the Cinderella of the copyright family Oct 1993, p913-917 

Game, set and match to McDonald’s Nov 1996, p753-757 

Ambush marketing Jun 2000, p24-28 

Ambush marketing and protected events Nov 2003, p20-23 

Trade mark dilution laughed off Oct 2005, p18-22 

Stalking the sleeping lion Jul 2006, p16-21 

Traditional knowledge subverts intellectual principles Jul 2009, p7 

Treasure trove raiders Nov 2009, p24-26 

Ambush marketing and the FIFA 2010 World Cup Jun 2010, p16-20 



South African case law on the infringement of copyright by parallel importation Vol 7, 1983, p190-194 

Universal City Studios v Network Video Recognition of ‘Anton Piller’ orders in South Africa Vol 8, Jul 1986, p218-219 

McDonald’s trade mark: ‘Ex Africa semper aliquid novi’ Vol 12, 1996, p683-691 

Ambushing event Piracy Issue 11, Okt 2012



The implications for the entertainment industry of proposed amendments to the South African Copyright Act Vol 2, Iss 6, 1991, p197-200 

Parallel importation of artistic works: P Frank & Hirsch(Pty) Limited v A Roopanand Brothers (Pty) Limited News item, Vol 4, Iss 5, 1993, pE99-101 

Creation of Independent Broadcasting Authority News item, Vol 4, Iss 6, 1993, pE117-119 

The layout of the pages of a diary do not qualify for copyright either as a literary work of as an artistic work, Vol 6, Iss 6, 1995, pE81-81 

Video games constitute “cinematograph films”: Golden China TV Centre v Nintendo Co News item, Vol 8, Iss 1, 1997, pE11-12 



Parallel imports Vol 10, Pt 2, 2002, p74-77 

A unified intellectual property law system for southern Africa. Part 1: International arrangements and European conventions Vol 2, Pt 3, 1994

A unified intellectual property law system for southern Africa. Part 2: Multinational registrations in Africa Vol 2, Pt 4, 1994, p165-169 



The future of South African trademarks Mar 1998, p50-53 

Watch out for compulsory licences! Feb 1992, p46-47

A grey goods guide to South Africa Feb 2001, p43-45 

FIFA wins first 2010 ambush marketing ruling Jun 2009, p49 



Protection of the author’s moral rights in South Africa Vol 7, 1995, p73-83 

McDonald’s turns the tables on trade-mark hijackers Vol 8, 1996, p408-423 

The Counterfeit Goods Act 37 of 1997 Vol 10, 1998, p33-57 

Quo Vadis South African Trade Marks? Vol 10, 1998, p89-110 

Ambushing Event Piracy, Vol 24, Issue 1, 2012



Copyright v grey goods in South Africa, Australia and Singapore 1994, Vol 3, p746-758 

Account of profits in South African copyright law 1986, Vol 103, p103-117 

Parallel importation-infringement of copyright, Centenary Volume, 1983,  p258-277 



Reproduction of three-dimensional utilitarian objects- copyright infringement and unlawful competition Vol 1, No 1, 1990, p49-66 

Protection of computer programs by copyright in South Africa Vol 6, No 1, 1995, p86-96 

Intellectual property and comparative advertising Vol 7, No 1, 1996, p25-36 



The case for the recognition of intellectual property in the Bill of rights Vol 60, 1997, 105-119 



Parallel importation and trademark infringement Oct 1987, p50-52



Fire Fighting Vol 12, Issue 12,  Des 2012

A new tradition in Legislation Vol 12, Issue 11, Des 2012

The world isn’t our stage Vol 12, Issue 6, July 2012, p.33-35

FIFA scoring Copyright goals Vol 10 Issue 2, March 2010, p.38-39

FIFA scores opening goal Vol  9, Issue 5, May 2009

Where angels fear to tread Vol 9. Issue 1 Feb 2009, p.18-19

Red card Vol 9, Issue 8, Sep 2009. P.17-20

A hotbed of piracy Vol 8, Issue 10, Nov 2008, p.10-11

Penalty shootout ahead Vol 7, Issue 11, Dec  2007, p 4-6

Hello is there anyone out there? Vol 7, Issue 6, July 2007



Sport as brand and its legal protection in South Africa, March 2012



Trademarks going up in smoke, 3 May 2012

An anthem to ignorance, 20 Jun 2012



Current Developments – South Africa, Issue 89, June 2012, p. 101-102

Quo Vadis Copyright in South Africa, Issue  90, Sept, 2012

Curtailing The Use of Tobacco Marks, Issue 91, Dec 2012



South Africa: TK Legislation in The New Tradition, 6 Oct 2011

The Mad Hatter in Wonderland: South Africa’s New TK, 8 Nov 2011

A NEW South African Traditional Knowledge Bill- Sui Generis Protection for Traditional knowledge, 18 March 2012

Golden Oldies? South African High Courts Looks at What is “Traditional”, 29 May 2012

An Anthem To Ignorance, 20 Jun 2012



Sur Generis Bill drawn up for protection of traditional knowledge, 12 march 2012

Copyright dispute over “Traditional songs”, 29 May 2012

National anthem is free to use, 21 Jun 2012



SARU owns Springbok emblem, 23 Oct 2008

Intellectual Property Laws Bill an abomination, 21 Sept 2009

The Mad Hatter In Wonderland, 3 Nov 2011

New Traditional Knowledge Bill Sui Generis protection of traditional knowledge, 8 March 2012

Trade marks going up in smoke, 24 April 2012



Articles have been published in the following magazines/newspapers and are available on request from the author.  

Financial Mail; Finweek; Noseweek, Finansies en Tegniek, Business Day, Rapport and Pretoria News.