The biggest case of public counterfeiting in the history of design


A project worth 12 million euro


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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The case is unveiled


SANTA & COLE gets a call from ASHGHAL (the public institution that executes the Qatari Government’s urban policy) complaining about the defects in the streetlights and demanding their immediate repair. “What streetlamps are you talking about?” replies SANTA & COLE.

It turned out that ASHGHAL, after communicating SANTA & COLE the cancellation of the project, used all the technical and construction information received to execute it on its own.
The result: around 1,000 plagiarized LATINA streetlamps, disastrously produced between Turkey and China, which dazzle drivers and collapse due to the action of saltpetre and wind.

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The agreement and the breach


ASHGHAL declares its willingness to solve the conflict “friendly and fairly”, compensating SANTA & COLE and Beth Galí both economically and through the assignment of new projects in the country.

SANTA & COLE prepares a memorandum of understanding, approved by ASHGHAL’S CEO, as well as the new lighting projects requested.

In the following months, none of the reached agreements are fullfilled by the State of Qatar nor ASHGHAL. SANTA & COLE is profoundly concerned and asks for explanations.

It is not until years later, in 2010, when the approved memorandum is rejected by ASHGHAL’s President, who is also Qatar’s Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning.

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Seeking for WIPO mediation


SANTA & COLE seeks international mediation in the case. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) calls both parties for dialogue. Qatar rejects dialogue and proposes going to Qatari Courts.

In Spain, the case comes to attention of the Spanish government, which decides to include Qatar in the list of countries with trade barriers.

Meanwhile, confusion spreads within the industry. SANTA & COLE is blamed for the shameful copy installed in Doha. SANTA & COLE’s corporate image is seriously damaged and, consequently, its projects and products are excluded from the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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The author's demand


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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Qatar pretends to be "immune"


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 presents an appeal to the Provincial Court of Barcelona to avoid helplessness.

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 counterfeiting in the history of design. The case returns to Court No. 2 of Barcelona.

Qatar opposes again the lawsuit. The judge calls for dialogue between the parties to try to reach a settlement. Due to the international impact of the case, WIPO Mediation Center (United Nations) is considered for mediation. But Qatar gives evasive responses again.

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Qatar's reply to the author


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.


The author beats Qatar


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 appeal to the Provincial Court of Barcelona, which had previously sentenced them to be judged for the counterfeiting while they claimed immunity.


Second claim


SANTA & COLE presents its lawsuit for breach of agreement, which is admitted in the Courts of Granollers.

Qatar and ASHGHAL oppose to the lawsuit invoking territorial incompetence of the Spanish courts.