In online gambling battle, Antigua wins a small pot from U.S.
Antigua won a round over the United States Friday in an international battle over online gambling. The pot turned out to be much smaller than the Caribbean island nation had hoped for, but it contained something highly unusual — the right to piracy.The U.S. has been trying to clamp down on Internet gambling, which is usually carried out in America by credit card transactions carried out through offshore companies. Antigua, home of some of those companies, had fought back with a complaint filed through the World Trade Organization. It had prevailed in preliminary rounds, and on Friday, a WTO arbitration panel issued a ruling on how the dispute should be settled.
That ruling was highly unusual. It took an ax to the size of the settlement, saying Antigua deserved $21 million in compensation, not the $3.4 billion it had sought.But it also said that Antigua was entitled to collect that compensation by ignoring intellectual property rights (IPR), including trademarks, patents and copyrights. In a statement issued Friday, the U.S. Trade Representatives office shot back a warning. It said the ruling authorized “what would otherwise be considered acts of piracy, counterfeiting, or other forms of IPR infringement. Furthermore, to do so would undermine Antigua’s claimed intentions of becoming a leader in legitimate electronic commerce, and would severely discourage foreign investment in the Antiguan economy.” It asked Antigua to delay any actions to enforce the ruling.Officials from Antigua, which has a historic familiarity with piracy, had no immediate public statement.