After six years of failing to negotiate with them, a Catalan designer is going public with a story that could cause Qatar tremendous embarrassment in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup. A member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and bound by the Paris Convention and the TRIPS Agreement, Qatar is a sovereign nation. And yet, according to Beth Galí, the country’s public works authority Ashgal knowingly counterfeited 10 kilometers of street lighting that she designed for Barcelona.
The Stolen Latina Lights
In 2006, Ashgal forged nearly 1,000 “Latina” street lamps designed by Galí and manufactured by Santa & Cole. They were installed on Al Waab Street – the main thoroughfare in Doha – and are said to have been made poorly too.
The lamps were originally commissioned for completion in advance of the 14th Asian Games in Doha in 2006. Once Galí caught wind of what she calls one of the “largest acts of piracy in the history of design,” she attempted to negotiate with Ashgal through WIPO.
But since Qatar refused the arbitration, the designer has taken her case to the Courts of Barcelona instead.
After six years of battling against one of the wealthiest nations on earth, Galí has received an outpouring of support from the manufacturers Santa & Cole, from the Barcelona Design Center (BCD) and a host of local designers as well.
“It is unbelievable that a country such as Qatar could commit such a serious case of forgery,” said Javier Nieto, Chairman of Santa & Cole.
“Protecting design as a factor of innovation is essential to create economic and social value in Europe,” Pau Herrera, Chairman of BCD concurred.
Meanwhile, Galí says that the forgeries aren’t even very well done. They are said to dazzle drivers and to be made with cheap, unstable steel. Images on Qatar Fakes website reveal the very strong possibility that Qatar stole this design, showing zero respect for copyright.
If true, they have a lot to answer for – especially as the spotlight will be on them in advance of the World Cup.