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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

WTO rules in Qatar's favor, cites KSA of piracy; Saudi says they are committed to WTO rules

Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce welcomes WTO’s ruling vs Saudi violations

MANILA – The Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the State of Qatar welcomed the recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has breaded Intellectual Property Rights by its refusal to act against beoutQ piracy channel and actively promoted piracy.

In a statement released by Embassy of the State of Qatar in Manila, it was learned that the WTO ruling found that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia breached its obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade and related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS Agreement”) and failed to protect intellectual property rights by refusing to take action against and instead actively promoting, sophisticated Saudi based broadcast pirate “beoutQ.”

The statement said the WTO Panel called on Saudi Arabia to stop its abuse of IP rights and “bring its measures into conformity” with WTO law. Accordingly, this is the first time in the 73-year history of the WTO and its predecessor (the GATT) that a Panel rejected a respondent’s attempt to invoke the national security exception as a defense.

The WTO Panel said Saudi Arabia’s failure to take criminal action against beoutQ was “so disconnected from any legitimate security interest that it could not mean even ‘a minimum requirement of plausibility in relation to the proffered essential security interests.’”

Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari was quoted telling Qatar News Agency that “Qatar, and international rights holders, (have) scored a resounding victory today. We expect Saudi Arabia, especially since it is hosting the upcoming G20, to respect this decisive ruling and end the theft and piracy of IP rights at once. They can start by heeding the WTO’s ruling and conducting a fair, timely and transparent legal proceeding against the perpetrators in order to stop this abusive posthaste.”

The ruling came after the State of Qatar filed a formal complaint against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, In a report published last Tuesday, the WTO Panel said beoutQ has been pirating copyrighted media content of Qatari company belN Media Group LLP (belN) in Saudi Arabia and beyond, including the sale of beoutQ subscriptions and set-top decoder boxes at numerous retail outlets across Saudi Arabia.

The report disclosed in addition of pirating belN’s proprietary and licensed sports content, the beoutQ boxes allow access to thousands of pirated movies, television shows and television channels worldwide and pirate broadcasts have been transmitted via Saudi-based Arabsat satellite frequencies and a Saudi company Saudi Selevision Company LLC, has “allowed or assisted beoutQ to broadcast its pirated content on Arabsat.”

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia said, through the Saudi Press Agency that the Kingdom “has a strong record of protecting intellectual property and it committed to applying its national law and procedures in full conformity with WTO rules.” (Melo M. Acuña)

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