World Trade Organisation sets up panel to investigate Saudi piracy of Qatar’s beIN

By QLNews

In a significant win for Qatar, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said it would investigate the country’s allegations of intellectual property breaches against Saudi Arabia.

In the process, the WTO dismissed Riyadh’s objection over what it said were national security concerns, reported Al Jazeera

A Geneva trade official said on Tuesday the WTO was going ahead with the setting up of a ‘panel to rule on Saudi Arabia’s alleged failure to provide adequate protection of intellectual property rights,’

The WTO will assign a panel of three dispute-settlement experts to evaluate Qatar’s allegations on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which sets international trade rules regarding IP rights, reported The Peninsula.

Qatar had launched the dispute in October, saying Saudi Arabia was blocking Qatari-owned broadcaster beIN and refusing to take effective action against alleged piracy of beIN’s content by “beoutQ”, a sophisticated pirating operation.

This month, Saudi Arabia had sought to block the case from being accepted. They had argued that the trade dispute body could not hear the case due to vital security interests tied to its boycott of Qatar, reported Reuters.

Qatar’s beIN is blocked in Saudi Arabia as part of the illegal siege of Qatar. While it is unclear who owns beoutQ or where it is based, it was launched shortly after the boycott and has illegally broadcasted World Cup soccer matches as well as Hollywood entertainment.

The WTO’s decision came at a meeting for Settlement of Disputes, held in Geneva, on Tuesday, said the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Saleh Abdulla Al Mana, Qatar’s Commercial Attache at WTO in Geneva, said the scale of Saudi Arabia’s violations was unprecedented, and threatened international system of IP protection.

“KSA has violated not only Qatar’s rights, but also the rights of other WTO member states. These actions represent a flagrant violation of Saudi Arabia’s trade and ethical obligations.,” Al Mana was quoted as saying by Gulf Times.

The Saudi government had refused to take actions against beoutQ, rejected BeIN’s requests to investigate the matter, and promoted public gatherings with screenings of the unauthorised sports broadcasts.

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