BELSATplus director says he may watch Belsat TV for work purposes

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Euroradio: What is the purpose of your legal battle against Belsat TV? What do you want to achieve?

Andrei Belyakou: It is very clearly outlined in the lawsuit, which is based on Article 11 in the Civil Code. It deals with copyright protection. This article contains 12 or 15 ways to resolve this problem. In principle, I will be happy with several options of solving this issue according to this article.

Euroradio: Which solution will be ideal personally for you? Perhaps, some compensation?

Andrei Belyakou: No one has offered compensation to me. Actually, this article does not envisage compensation. Rather, it deals with amicable agreement of lawsuit before the hearing. However, Article 11 contains a provision that deals with compensation of damages and compensation of moral damages. So, if we are talking about any compensation, compensation of moral damages is only possible in this case. Anyway, I can't answer this question of which result I would like to get, because it is ultimately down to the court to decide.

Euroradio: When talking about the damages that your company has suffered, was it really because the name of your firm is very similar to the name of the independent TV channel Belsat?

Andrei Belyakou: Definitely! Belsat has worked for some years already. And all the time there was confusion, because we were taken for this TV channel. We also had government agents from the tax athorities, the department against financial crimes come to us and check our operations several years ago. Naturally, those inspections affected our normal operations in a way, thus causing losses.

Euroradio: It appears that this very situation has made you take action in court?

Andrei Belyakou: The thing is that as far back as in June 2012 I was already being sued, I was the defendant and there was a court ruling. Telewizja Polska (Polish Television) had lodged a lawsuit against me, seeking to deprive us of the trademark Belsat. So, now this is the continuation of that story.

                       Andrei Belyakou in the Supreme Court

Euroradio: On what grounds did the Poles want to adjudge your trade mark, if you had registered your firm under this name before Belsat TV began its broadcasts?

Andrei Belyakou: Grounds… Well, they tried to present their arguments in court, but those were not sufficient. There is the court ruling, which describes all those insufficiencies. Moreover, we have the overriding right on the territory of Belarus, because we have had this name since 2001. (TV channel Belsat was founded through an agreement between Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and TVP (Polish Public Television) on April 23, 2007. The channel was created in 2006 by a group of journalists from Poland and Belarus led by Agnieszka Romaszewska who was later appointed as Belsat TV director. In the 2007 financial year the Polish TV received 16 million Polish zlotys (around 4 million euros) from the public budget to prepare and launch the broadcasts. The channel first went on air on December 10, 2007 - Euroradio).

As for the Belsat's report on November 7, multiplied by numerous websites, it had 80-90% of incorrect information. First of all, it is all lies that BELSAT plus filed a lawsuit against Belsat TV channel. Belyakou filed a lawsuit against Telewizja Polska. This is a totally different legal procedure. There were also some insinuations regarding Hightech Market, alleging Lysyankou was the owner, and then Belyakou cooked up something in the name of BELSAT plus. No, nothing like that happened! From its inception, Hightech had five co-founders, including myself. One year later, we cut the number of co-founders down to two people and Lysyankou became the director. When we were selling this company to other people, two new co-founders, I kept the trade mark for myself. Me and Lyasyankou reached an legal agreement on that. I have no idea where Ms Romaszewska got all these insinuations from. She'd have better approached the government agencies, which keep all those statutes and registrations on record in their files!

Euroradio: This ambiguous situation has lasted since 2007. Why haven't you tried to sort it out in court earlier?

Andrei Belyakou: Well, perhaps, my insufficient education in law prevented me from doing so. Otherwise, lawyers cost a lot of money. But since Telewizja Polska took me to court, I had to respond by studying this problem thoroughly, trying to understand all the judicial details. Now I am kind of rolling with the flow… Now I have some knowledge on this topic. Before, I did not really even feel like getting into all of this.

Euroradio: Is it still doable for you to meet with Ms Romaszewska over a cup of coffee and sort the conflict out amicably?

Andrei Belyakou: I guess Ms Romaszewska has no plans to meet with me personally, why should she? Perhaps, one of her aides and representatives could, I guess… But, you know, such things get resolved on paper and not over "a cup of coffee". Official motions get official replies. This is the only way. During the first court hearing, Telewizja Polska's lawyer Kasyanava was saying one thing during preliminary conversations when it was off the official record, but she would slightly change her position in the court room.

Euroradio: Didn't you feel like [go to court] at the times when tax authorities agents came suspecting you of ties…

АAndrei Belyakou: I don't want to say that they came specifically because of that. In fact, they did not come very often. It just happens when you know there is a TV channel like this, and suddenyl you learn that there is a TV company with a similar name in central Minsk. Naturally, you try to connect some associations like: "What is the company and would be interesting to find out what it does?" Therefore, I had some bitter feeling. Yet, I also understand the government agencies.

Euroradio: When you felt a connection between the name of your firm and the interest by state bodies, did you have a desire to change the name?

Andrei Belyakou: Why should I? I have the overriding right. Why should I change the name?!

Euroradio: There is an opinion that the authorities are using you and the court to put Belsat TV under pressure ahead of the next elections…

Andrei Belyakou: The first attempts to lodge a lawsuit date back to the late last year - still a huge amount of time till the election! All these international procedures with the dilevry of documents, translations - all of this consumes a lot of time. Only today, November 11, court hearings began. I could not know even roughly when they could begin. What if all of this got delayed and the hearings would begin after the elections, what woulld people say then?

Euroradio: That it is a revenge against Belsat TV for their election coverage, for instance…

Andrei Belyakou: Well, one can always find what to say if needed, isn't it?

Euroradio: So, there are no political components in this case?

Andrei Belyakou: I see no reasons for that. This is an usual battle for the protection of intellectual property. There is the World Organization for Intellectual Property Protection, signed by Poland and Belarus, dealing with the protection of intellectual property and trade marks. We are into a routine legal battleІ: who will get as the winner or the loser out of this situation. I don't see any political component here.

Euroradio: Have you calculated the losses of that your company has suffered over the similarity of the names with Belsat TV?

 
 
Andrei Belyakou: It's very difficult to calculate this. Maybe the loss is mostly moral. Moreover, when Belsat TV aired this story recently to its rather big audience and then all those comments in the Internet started - this is a kind of psychological pressure, too. This pressure is exerted not on me, not on my company but on the clients of my company. So, I add this meaning, too, to the definition of "moral damages".
 
 
Euroradio: Has Belsat TV approached you, have they presented your position on-air? 
 
 
Andrei Belyakou: No. I had contacts with a Belsat TV representative and with the lawyer during the inquest and during the first court hearings. 
 
 
Euroradio: In which way, do you think, this court case and how it is covered in the media will affect the image of your company, its financial prosperity? 
 
 
Andrei Belyakou: I don't know. Can't tell you this now. But I don't regret that this case has started. Now I should go all the way. I don't like to back off. 
 
 
Euroradio: Are you interested in politics? 
 
 
Andrei Belyakou: As everyone, more or less. But I don't participate in political actions in the streets, if this is what you mean. 
 
 
Euroradio: Do you watch Belsat TV? 
 
 
Andrei Belyakou: I don't have a satellite dish at home, but I have one at work. If it is required by work, I can watch it - for example, if I want to tune some equipment. Or, recently, we recorded several programs for the court: to show that they have the trademark on the screen. Or do you want me to tell you my opinion of this TV channel? If we take the program that I mentioned, the one that they aired on November 7, I think that it was unprofessional. I won't comment on other programs, but this one contained misleading information. 
 
Euroradio: Have the state media shown any interest in your court battle with Belsat TV? 
 
 
Andrei Belyakou: Well, we had BelaPAN in the court today.. 
 
 
Euroradio: This is a non-governmental news agency. 
 
 
Andrei Belyakou: Really?! Well, I'm not an expert in that... 
 
 
BELSATplus company belongs to Andrei Belyakou. It sells satellite equipment. According to earlier reports, Belyakou's only demand is for ASTRA satellite to stop the broadcasts of Belsat TV programs. 
 

Photo: inosmi.by, Barys Haretski