The biggest case of counterfeiting in the history of design

Chap.1

A 12 million euro Project

2005

In 2006 the XV Asian Games are held in Doha, Qatar. In this occasion, SANTA & COLE opts to win the public tender for the installation of around 1,000 streetlamps to light the 10 kilometers of Al Waab Avenue, one of the main avenues in Doha, which connects the historic center of the city with the great Aspire Park, where there are various hotel and tourist facilities and the Khalifa International Stadium, prominent location of the Asian Games.
Qatar asks and SANTA & COLE offers. One, two, three, four and up to five different lighting projects. The latter, personally selected by the Prince of Qatar, is based on a unique and special design of the lamp LATINA, by architect Beth Galí. The budget and technical information related to the project are presented.
Finally, SANTA & COLE receives the worst news: their chosen project will not be carried out.

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Chap.2

The case is unveiled

2007

SANTA & COLE gets a call from ASHGHAL (the public institution that implements the Qatari Government’s urban policy) and receives complaints from Qatari officials about defects in the streetlights and demanding their immediate repair. Stupefaction in SANTA & COLE: “What streetlamps?”
It turned out that ASHGHAL, after communicating to SANTA & COLE the cancellation of the work, used all the information received about the project and its elements to execute them on its own.
The result: around 1,000 plagiarized LATIN streetlamps, disastrously produced between Turkey and China, which dazzle drivers and collapse due to the action of saltpetre and wind.

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Chap.3

Negotiations and agreement between S&C, the author and ASHGHAL

2008

ASHGHAL says it wants to resolve the conflict in a “friendly and fair” way, compensating SANTA & COLE and Beth Galí with the allocation of new projects in the country and an economic compensation. SANTA & COLE does its part by submitting a memorandum of understanding, which was approved verbally, as well as the new lighting projects requested.
ASHGHAL’s CEO agrees and shake hands.
Finally, the previous memorandum of understanding is rejected by its President, who is also Qatar’s Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning.

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Chap.4

Ashghal noncompliance and seeking international support

2011

SANTA & COLE promotes international mediation in the case. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) invites both parties to find an agreement. Qatar rejects the invitation – and any proposal for dialogue – and offers to go to the Qatari courts.
In Spanish territory, the case reaches the ears of the Spanish government, which decides to include Qatar in the list of countries with trade barriers.
Within the sector, confusion spreads. SANTA & COLE is credited with the shameful copy installed in Doha. SANTA & COLE’s corporate image suffers serious damage and, consequently, its projects and products are excluded from the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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Chap.5

The author's demand

2012

Having exhausted the possibilities of dialogue, Beth Galí files a lawsuit against the state of Qatar and ASHGHAL in the courts of Barcelona, for the violation of her moral rights as author of the plagiarized work, the LATINA. SANTA & COLE gives its full support to the lawsuit and considers presenting its own lawsuit for patrimonial damages caused by the non-compliance of the agreement.

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Chap.6

Qatar, the state who wants to be "immune"

2013-2015

The State of Qatar and ASHGHAL oppose Beth Galí’s lawsuit alleging immunity and territorial incompetence of the Spanish judge. The judge accepts Qatar’s plea and inhibits himself as incompetent. Beth Galí’s defense presents an appeal before the Provincial Court of Barcelona to avoid defenselessness.
After a few months, the Court issued a historic Order: the State of Qatar will be tried in Barcelona for the largest case of public piracy in the history of design. The case is returned to Court No. 2 of Barcelona to enter into the merits of the case.
Qatar presents its answer to the lawsuit. The judge invites the parties to try to reach a consensual solution. Thanks to the international impact of the case, the parties are brought into contact with the WIPO Mediation Center (United Nations). But Qatar responds again with evasions.

Chap.7

Qatar's reply to the author

2016

At the expiration of the mediation period granted by the judge of first instance, Qatar invites to the pact in Doha without mediators. The author and SANTA & COLE are facing unbearable conditions, considering the violation of the agreements of the previous conversations in 2007 and 2008.
Qatar is informed of the impossibility of negotiating under such conditions. The author’s lawsuit is still pending in court.

Chap.8

The author beats Goliath

2018

The Mercantile Court of Barcelona sentences the State of Qatar and the public company ASHGHAL to remove and destroy all the plagiarized streetlamps and to pay compensation to Beth Galí for her moral rights as author of LATINA.
This is a historic sentence: the first in which a European court protects the intellectual rights of an author against a sovereign state for events that occurred in the sovereign territory of the infringer.
Qatar and ASHGHAL oppose the second lawsuit (of the publisher, for pecuniary damages) and have recourse to the first (of the author, for moral damages) before the Court of Barcelona

Chap.9

Second claim

Ongoing

SANTA & COLE presents its lawsuit for non fulfillment of contract, which is admitted in the Courts of Granollers. The Qatar defence once again invokes the territorial incompetence of the Spanish courts. TBC…