Barcelona ruled that Qatar plagiarised a key design from Catalan architecture


A judge in Barcelona had ruled that the state of Qatar had hacked a key Catalan architectural design that was implemented in the Doha stadium. The Mercantile Court 2 judge in Barcelona ruled that the State of Qatar had falsified the design of street lamps that it had installed in one of the main avenues of Doha, whose intellectual property corresponds to the Catalan architect Beth Galí in the frame of a Cole project.

The Judge has forced ‘Ashgal’- the public works company of the State of Qatar – to pay Galí compensation of 50,000 euros for moral damages caused by violation of their rights author.

This is the first sentence in which a Spanish judge protects the intellectual rights of an author against a sovereign state. “This is a first and it is very important because an SME has won a lawsuit against a state and, above all, it is very important for the internationalization of copyright,” said Javier Nieto, President of Santa & Cole. “The most important thing is not for me but for the fact that justice has been done in the world of design and especially in the business world, we are at a time when everything is copied,” says architect Beth Galí.

The battle to recognize plagiarism began to disappear in 2005. The company decided to resume the public contract for the installation of a thousand street lamps to illuminate the ten kilometers of Al Waab Avenue in Doha. The most popular design was the Latin lamp, the work of the famous Beth Galí, who has already visited Barcelona neighborhoods such as Joan Miró Park or Fòrum. The project was valued at 12 million euros, was on track. The State of Qatar has asked for the plans and requested for five versions be adapted to their taste until they are never heard from again. Months later, the unexpected happened, the Government of Qatar contacted Santa & Cole to complain about the failures detected in streetlights, which collapsed under the effect of wind. “We were stuck because we had not made them,” recalls Nieto. This is how it was all discovered. A sudden trip to Doha corroborated the suspicions. The avenue was illuminated by a thousand streetlights identical to those of Beth Galí, although the metal structure was made in Turkey and the floodlights in China. Despite the plans, the falsification was a disaster and the streetlights collapsed. This failure, which was not his, had a negative impact on his brand. The sector has linked them to the company and this bad reputation has resulted in the rejection of a project for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Beth Galí, of Santa & Cole, has asked to be compensated for infringement of intellectual property. The company went to the Spanish Embassy and international organizations to strengthen their demands and even used FC Barcelona, ​​sponsored this year by the Qatar Foundation.

Santa & Cole then activated the legal route that led this week to a favorable decision. The judge recognised the artistic height of Galí’s floor lamp design, and stated that his work deserves protection for its artistic value. Qatar appealed to the Audiencia de Barcelona and, for its part, Santa & Cole also demanded that the decision be made public internationally. “This is David’s victory over Goliath,” says Isabel Roig, General Manager of the Barcelona Disseny Center (BCD), an institution that has supported Galí and Santa & Cole in their legal action against Qatar and who advocate the protection of the intellectual property of Catalan designers.

For years, the BCD has been calling for greater involvement of the European authorities in protecting the SMEs concerned “by the dangerous gap created by the major counterfeiters and infringers”. “We feel very small and helpless, but in the 21st century economy, intellectual property is the only thing that will save Europe, because we can aspire to have good ideas,” said the president of Santa & Cole .

The company that won first victory with a favorable decision on intellectual property expects justice to be expressed in the same way in the lawsuit that was also brought against Qatar for damages and prejudice and which has still not not resolved.

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