In a statement issued by the Saudi Authority for Intellectual
Property (SAIP) on 23 June 2020, Saudi Arabia makes a number of
blatantly false assertions about the findings of the World Trade
Organization’s (WTO) Panel Report concerning the dispute Saudi Arabia – Measures concerning the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (DS567).
These false assertions are regrettably part of an orchestrated
attempt by Saudi Arabia to spread disinformation and obscure the truth
about the WTO Panel’s findings. Yet again, Saudi Arabia has reverted to
tactics of deception and deceit tactics, rather than taking the
necessary corrective action to combat intellectual property theft.
Fortunately, the Report, which includes a clear statement of
the Panel’s conclusions, is publicly available for all to see: Saudi
Arabia failed to protect intellectual property rights and their
deficiencies must be remedied.
To counter the disinformation published by Saudi Arabia, the State of Qatar presents the following true statements:
- The WTO Panel found that Saudi Arabia’s attempted recourse to
the national security exception did not excuse the violation of its
obligations under the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement. In particular, the Panel
found that “the non-application of criminal procedures and penalties to
beoutQ does not ‘meet a minimum requirement of plausibility in relation
to the proffered essential security interests, i.e. that they are not
implausible as measures protective of these interests’” (see Panel
Report, para. 7.293).
- Although the Panel found that one of the prerequisites for
invoking the TRIPS national security defense – an “emergency” – was
present, this was due to Saudi Arabia’s own conduct, specifically its
decision to sever relations with Qatar and its repeated false
allegations about “terrorism and extremism”. The WTO Panel was careful
not to endorse Saudi Arabia’s allegations, stating that: “[t]he Panel
expresses or implies no position concerning any of these allegations,
and recalls that Qatar strongly denied the various accusations made by
Saudi Arabia” (see Panel Report, paras. 7.262 and 7.263).
- Saudi Arabia is the only WTO Member ever to have had its
invocation of a national security defense rejected (see Panel Report,
paras. 7.294 and 8.1(c)(ii)).
- The WTO Panel found no exception to justify Saudi Arabia’s
failure to take criminal action against beoutQ (see Panel Report, paras.
7.286 and 7.288).
- The WTO Panel found that “Saudi Arabia has taken measures
that, directly or indirectly, have had the result of preventing beIN
from obtaining Saudi legal counsel to enforce its IP rights through
civil enforcement procedures before Saudi courts and tribunals, and thus
Saudi Arabia has acted in a manner inconsistent with Article 42 and
Article 41.1 of the TRIPS Agreement” (Panel Report, para. 8.1(b)(i)).
- The WTO Panel found that “Saudi Arabia has not provided for
criminal procedures and penalties to be applied to beoutQ despite the
evidence establishing prima facie that beoutQ is operated by individuals
or entities under the jurisdiction of Saudi Arabia, and thus Saudi
Arabia has acted inconsistently with Article 61 of the TRIPS Agreement”
(see Panel Report, para. 8.1(b)(i)).
- In fact, the WTO Panel found that “while taking no action to
apply criminal procedures and penalties to beoutQ, Saudi authorities
engaged in the promotion of public gatherings with screenings of
beoutQ’s unauthorized broadcasts of 2018 World Cup matches” (see Panel
Report, para. 7.219).
- The WTO Panel found that “beIN and other foreign right holders
repeatedly sent detailed information to the Saudi authorities to inform
them of beoutQ’s alleged piracy, and the extensive evidentiary basis
for concluding that beoutQ is operated by individuals or entities
subject to the criminal jurisdiction of Saudi Arabia” (Panel Report,
- The WTO Panel found that this information was sent to the
Saudi Ministry of Media and the Saudi General Commission of Audio and
Visual Media or (GCAM) from 2018 onwards, when the beoutQ piracy
started. SAIP was not operational until 2019.
- At no point did beIN or other foreign rights holders receive
any communication from GCAM that their complaints should be sent to
SAIP, or any other Saudi authority.
In a statement, Saudi Arabia makes a commitment to “do its
part” to stop copyright piracy. If true, Saudi Arabia should accept the
WTO Panel Report and take immediate remedial action. Regrettably, Saudi
Arabia’s statement suggests that it has not yet drawn the necessary
lessons from the Panel’s devastating findings and will follow similar
steps to what beoutQ has done in the past.
Source: Press Release
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