Saudi Arabia - Measures concerning the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights - Communication from Qatar

Saudi Arabia – Measures Concerning the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

Communication from Qatar

The following communication, dated 23 June 2020, was received from the delegation of Qatar with the request that it be circulated to the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).





Subject: Saudi Arabia – Measures Concerning the Protection of Intellectual
Property Rights (DS567) - Saudi Arabia's Communication
of 2 June 2020 (WT/DSB/COM/9)

On 16 June 2020, the Secretariat circulated, as document WT/DSB/COM/9, a communication from Saudi Arabia dated 2 June 2020 and titled "Systemic Issue of the Lack of Remedy to the Breach of Confidentiality in WTO Dispute Settlement Proceedings". 

Saudi Arabia's communication appears to be primarily concerned with criticizing a panel's procedural ruling, while also repeating unfounded allegations regarding the conduct of Qatar and its delegation, in the course of the proceedings in Saudi Arabia – Measures Concerning Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (DS567).  Saudi Arabia also seeks to mischaracterize the substantive findings of the Panel in a manner suggesting they are somehow favourable to Saudi Arabia. 

As Saudi Arabia has inscribed a discussion of this issue on the agenda for the DSB meeting on 29 June 2020, Qatar takes this opportunity, in advance of the DSB meeting, to set the record straight. 

Under cover of a submission purportedly about a "systemic issue", Saudi Arabia first uses its communication as an opportunity to complain to the WTO membership about a procedural decision made by the Panel in DS567.  As Saudi Arabia explains, a few weeks prior to circulation of the Panel Report, it complained to the Panel about the content of a press report in the newspaper "The Guardian", published on 26 May 2020.  That article addressed the problem of broadcast piracy in Saudi Arabia and highlighted, among other things: serious concerns expressed by FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League and La Liga about the notorious Saudi-based pirate "beoutQ"; the fact that the British government had repeatedly expressed concern to Saudi Arabia about beoutQ at a Ministerial level; and the European Commission's naming of Saudi Arabia in a January 2020 report for failing to "crack down" on beoutQ.1  Regrettably, the press report also made statements about findings of the Panel in DS567 at a time when the Panel Report was still confidential.  As Saudi Arabia sets out, rather than authorizing Saudi Arabia to discuss the Panel Report prior to circulation, the Panel reiterated (as it must) that the Panel Report was to remain strictly confidential until circulation.

1 Newcastle takeover in serious doubt as WTO rules pirate TV channel is Saudi, The Guardian (26 May 2020).