18 January 2018, Thursday, 4:35

Belsat: Trial against us is political order


Belarusian authorities are clearing the information space ahead of the “election”.

The Supreme Court obliged the Polish Television to stop using the trademark Belsat when broadcasting in Belarus and banned the use of the trademark Belsat's on its website. Aliaksei Dzikavitski, the director of the TV channel, told charter97.org the court's decision would not influence Belsat's work and expressed the hope that the trial was not a sign of a new wave of repression against journalists.

– Will today's trial influence the work of Belsat?

– We are registered in Poland and we did not violate anything. The decision of the court does not have any force even under Belarusian laws. The situation of media in Belarus hasn't changed. Belarusian media found themselves under strong pressure after Lukashenka had come to power. The only thing is that there's a difference between a newspaper published in Belarus, a radio station or a website and us. We are registered in Poland. Our work will not change. We will continue our struggle against the fierce propaganda in Belarusian and Russian state-owned media. We hope the decision of the court won't be followed by a crackdown on our journalists. It would be excessive and impolite of the authorities.

– The owner of Belarusian firm BELSATplus, Andrei Beliakou, found out that the firm's name sounds like your TV channel's name only in May last year. Why did not he complain earlier?

– Yes, the owner of the trademark in Belarus suddenly realised after many years that we hinder him. It is obviously a political order. Unfortunately, it cannot be investigated. We know that an early presidential election is possible in Belarus. It may take place even in spring. We can speak about clearing the information space. The authorities found this man, who, perhaps, didn't even think we hinder anyone. He admitted he receives complaints from other people.

Mikhas Yanchuk, a representative of Belsat in Belarus, says the TV channel didn't try to solve the problem with Beliakou peacefully, because it would mean his claim has grounds.

– Beliakou presented absolutely ungrounded demands. He cannot have any support within legal norms. Negotiations with him would mean his demands have grounds. The trademark right is based on the territorial principle. We have the right to our trademark in Poland and the EU. It is said in our documents. Beliakou has the right to his trademark, which significantly differs from ours, only in Belarus. As a unit of the Polish television, we do not have any business in Belarus. We have no accredited journalists in Belarus. We have no offices, bank accounts and so on. We are not present in the country due to the efforts of the Belarusian authorities. We don't have any reasons to negotiate with Beliakou: we lie in different national legal jurisdictions. Moreover, his business activities do not include satellite TV broadcasting. Belsat and he have different business activities. Agreeing on this person's conditions means surrendering. Why should we do it?

– By the way, how can the Belarusian authorities ban to use any trademark on a website if neither servers nor the domain name belong to Belarus?

– You are absolutely right. Our lawyer Ihar Dzyachkou turned attention at the trial that the territorial principle of the trademark protection is used even on the Internet: everything is protected on the principle of domain zones. Belarus and all websites in Belarus have the domain .by, while the European Union can have different domain names – .eu, for example, or, as in Poland, .pl. There are no grounds even to think that they can forbid us to use our name on the Internet. The ground proposed by the court sounds just excellent: “Belsat should be banned from using the trademark on its website because the Internet is a global network.”

If someone registers a firm with the name BBC, the firm cannot forbid the British Broadcasting Corporation to use its name on its website. This is what happened today to Belsat in the Supreme Court.