When you think of the Islamic Republic of Iran, you might well associate the country with right-wing Shiite clerics. Or with human rights abuses. One thing I'm willing to wager doesn't pop immediately into your head when you hear the word "Iran," however, is the defense of intellectual property rights of Great Satanic, er, make that American, companies.

And yet, it's so.

According to two successive issues of the INTA Bulletin ("Voice of the International Trademark Association"), Iran is going out of its way to defend well-known trademarks of American companies against homegrown Iranian trademark infringers.

The first case cited by INTA resulted in a judgment in December 2004 in favor of Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). We all know the company's famous "Pringles" brand, right? The one with the stylized "Pringles guy" head, hair parted in the middle, barbershop quartet moustache, and no visible nose? Well, over in Iran, one Alinazar Alizadeh decided to register a trademark bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Pringles guy, with one change: Instead of "Pringles" written on his bowtie was the word "Nazari" (which is either a last name or a palace in Granada, Spain). P&G, which had not registered the trademark in Iran previously, nonetheless successfully challenged Mr. Alizadeh's mark as infringing, winning at both the trial and appellate levels.

Next discussed was a February case in which Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) challenged Iranian individual Ghasem Ghorbankhani's registration of Time Warner's famous "Tweety Bird" (of Sylvester & Tweety fame) for his own use. Time Warner also had not registered the mark previously in Iran, but it rushed to do so at the same time as it challenged Mr. Ghorbankhani's mark. Once again, an American company proved its case and won out at both the trial and appellate levels.

So in two cases involving obviously American plaintiffs -- one a purveyor of Western culture in a cardboard canister, the other in DVD form -- have just won fair verdicts apparently based on the rule of law (specifically, on the fact that both Iran and the U.S. have signed the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which protects a trademark in one country as long as it's currently in use and has been registered in another country signatory to the Convention).

In a country where the courts are so tightly controlled, you have to wonder whether someone's trying to tell us something: Iran is once again open for business.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in either of the companies mentioned in this article.