The counsel for beIN Media Group has described a ruling by the WTO that Saudi Arabia had breached its obligations concerning IP and its refusal to take action over broadcast pirate beoutQ as a “historic vindication of intellectual property rights”.
The broadcaster is responsible for the pirating of a string of top flight sports events including Champions League, Bundesliga, Premier League, Formula 1 and NFL.
“The WTO has established that, since 2017, the Saudi government has played a central role in enabling and promoting beoutQ’s theft of world sport and entertainment – the most widespread and damaging piracy operations that the world has ever seen,” said Stephen Nathan QC, Blackstone Chambers, counsel for beIN Media Group.
By failing to commence criminal proceedings against beoutQ, despite evidence it operated in the country, Saudi Arabia was found to be in breach of WTO rules. It recommended that Riyadh conformed with its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement on intellectual property.
However, the report did support the view of the Saudi Arabian that it was within its rights to refuse beIN legal counsel in Saudi Arabia on the grounds of national security.
The WTO’s interest is believed to have been sparked by complaints by the Premier League, Fifa, La Liga, and Uefa who hired international legal counsel to investigate the matter, but were unable to find anyone to represent them locally.
In a statement Saudi Arabia’s mission to the WTO said: “Saudi Arabia has a strong record of protecting intellectual property and is committed to applying its national law and procedures in full conformity with WTO rules”.