A Spanish company has been given the green light to sue the State of Qatar and the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in a commercial court in Barcelona over claims that the street lights on Al Waab Street violate its copyright.
Santa&Cole – which owns the patent for 16-meter high “Latina” street lamps designed by Spanish architect Beth Galí – has launched a website called Qatar Fakes in which it alleges that Qatar is guilty of “the biggest case of public counterfeiting in the history of design.”
Last summer, the company filed a claim in Barcelona asserting that Qatar had breached copyright when it commissioned lights similar to Galí’s to line Al Waab Street.
As well as suing for damages, Galí has also called for the Al Waab lights to be removed, claiming that they are badly made and that they cause accidents on one of Doha’s busiest roads.
This week, a court in Barcelona gave Qatar and Ashghal 20 days to reply to the allegations, after which time it will proceed without Qatar’s involvement if it receives no response, Santa&Cole told Doha News.
Qatar has not publicly commented on the matter.
In 2005, Santa&Cole won a public competition to install Galí’s street lamps in Doha.
However, Qatari authorities eventually decided they were no longer interested in installing her lamps. Instead, they contacted a Chinese company to design and produce similar lights.
In a statement, the company insists that it has explored all avenues to avoid a court case:
”After six years of attempts to reach an amicable agreement and after the Qatari government refused the arbitration of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the courts of Barcelona have admitted what could be the biggest lawsuit for piracy brought against a sovereign state”, the statement reads.
This photo shows the original design in situ in Barcelona:
Galí’s lamps have also been installed in Rotterdam and Hamburg.