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Responding to the Report of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in Case No. (DS 567)

Responding to the Report of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in Case No. (DS 567)

The WTO Dispute Settlement Body circulated on 16 June 2020, regarding the case brought by Qatar about compliance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which vindicates the Kingdom and justifies under international law the measures that Saudi Arabia has in place to protect our country and people from terrorism and extremism.

In addition to fully accepting Saudi Arabia’s national security defense, the Panel rejected claims that Saudi intellectual property laws and regulations violated WTO rules, rejected claims that our Government supported the alleged copyright piracy, and the Panel did not find that any copyright pirate was based on our territory. The key intellectual property question in the dispute was whether, under the circumstances of the dispute, Saudi Arabia could have applied criminal procedures and penalties to protect copyright holders’ rights.  Saudi Arabia confirmed repeatedly before the Panel, that Saudi authorities took all possible measures to seize and destroy illegal set-top boxes for unlicensed distribution of digital broadcasts. Saudi authorities pursued a multi-prong enforcement approach, including public education, deterrence by monitoring the market, investigating compliance, and seizing hardware, as well as encouraging content providers to ensure that legal means of distribution are available. As experts on digital copyright enforcement know well, ensuring the availability of content through legal means is key to achieving compliance, together with public awareness campaigns and monitoring and enforcement activities in the market, and cross-border cooperation.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly committed to continue to do its part to identify the illegal activity and stop copyright piracy. At the same time, the Kingdom emphasized that success in this area requires international cooperation from all parties to achieve compliance, especially because digital pirates operate globally. As Saudi Arabia made clear to the Panel, and as remains the case today, no evidence of civil or criminal copyright violation at all has been provided to the Saudi authorities exclusively responsible for enforcing intellectual property rights in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) and the Copyright Committee.

Nevertheless, we continue to hear complaints that access is being blocked to enforcement through the Saudi legal system. Therefore, we want to confirm how simple and transparent our process is for submitting information and claims regarding the protection of intellectual property. As Saudi Arabia confirmed on the record before the WTO Panel, in order to raise an intellectual property issue in Saudi Arabia, a right holder only needs to send an email to the responsible authorities.

As Saudi Arabia submitted to the Panel, any entity may contact SAIP through the means indicated on SAIP’s public webpage, including directly through its website: https://www.saip.gov.sa/en/contact-us/, or by email: saip@saip.gov.sa. Hundreds of companies have contacted the Saudi authorities to obtain answers to questions and to resolve intellectual property matters. The Saudi authorities welcome all inquiries in order to ensure compliance with Saudi law and international obligations, and to promote innovation and economic development in Saudi Arabia.

Accordingly, SAIP affirms the continuation of joint national efforts on the fight against the violations of intellectual property rights in Saudi Arabia through:

 

First: Ensuring effective enforcement of intellectual property rights by the concerned authorities.

-SAIP affirms its responsibility to register IP rights, protecting thereof and facilitating procedures for filing complaints and lawsuits through its official channels and pursuing litigation procedures through the competent court.

-SAIP works on full integration of the IP enforcement ecosystem in Saudi Arabia and enhances efforts to develop and coordinate working methods between government entities and the private sector competent with IP rights enforcement.

 

  Second: Building respect for intellectual property rights

-SAIP launches awareness campaigns to build respect of intellectual property through various media means, and organized huge events in various regions in Saudi Arabia to introduce intellectual property and build its respect within individuals and enterprises and conducts several IP workshops across Saudi Arabia.

-SAIP executes inspections campaigns on a large scale to combat violations of intellectual property rights including stores selling pirates broadcasting devices, pirated computer software. In addition to audio recording stores and websites violating intellectual property law. Moreover, SAIP works on blocking access of violating websites inside Saudi Arabia in coordination with the concerned authorities and satisfy the relevant regulatory procedures.

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