Customs officers in Taiwan catch woman smuggling dozens of gerbils strapped to her legs
Coastguard officials on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen have caught a woman attempting to smuggle 24 gerbils in small bags strapped to legs.
Reportedly returning from a trip to mainland China, the 60-year-old Taiwanese woman was pulled aside for questioning after customs officers noticed that she walking in a strange way and acting nervously.
During a search of the woman, officials were surprised to find the animals individually wrapped in plastic bags that had been strapped to her legs and concealed underneath a long skirt.
The woman, identified by local media outlets only as Wu, is said to have claimed that she smuggled the gerbils into the country on behalf of friends having purchased them from a pet shop in China.
She is reported to have confessed to buying each gerbil at a price of 50 Chinese yuan ($7.38) for a male, and 150 Chinese yuan for a female.
In Taiwan, the going rate for a male gerbil is the equivalent of around $16, while a female can fetch up to double that amount.
Wu is said to have told investigators that she was paid a fee of 60 Chinese yuan to smuggle each gerbil into Taiwan.
Noting how the woman was unable to identify who she was smuggling the animals for, coastguard officials said she may have been testing security procedures at the port on behalf of a smuggling gang that may be planning to sneak other contraband past customs officials.
After being questioned by coastguard investigators, the woman was passed to the local prosecutor’s office and charged with violating Taiwan’s Infectious Animal Disease Prevention and Control Act.
The gerbils she attempted to sneak into the country were later destroyed.
In a similar incident earlier this month, customs officers caught a man attempting to cross from Malaysia into Singapore with four kittens stuffed down the front of his trousers.
In a statement issued on Facebook, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore said: “On 2 January, ICA officers detected four live kittens concealed in the pants of a 45-year-old male Singaporean in a Singapore-registered car at Tuas Checkpoint.
“Officers were prompted to conduct further checks when they heard ‘meowing’ sounds coming from a bulge in his pants.
“The case was referred to Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) for investigation. The kittens are now under the care and quarantine of AVA.”
Al Jazeera-owned beIN Media Group publishes sports content piracy allegations against Saudi rival
The Qatar-based beIN Media Group has published “dossier of evidence” on a new website that it claims demonstrates how Saudi Arabia-based pirate TV channel beoutQ and Riyadh-headquartered satellite provider Arabsat are stealing its content and repackaging it as their own.
beIN, a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network that runs a global network of sports channels, claims the website outlines how the two organisations have stolen its sports and entertainment content on “an industrial scale” over the past 18 months, detailing all the commercial rights that have been infringed since beoutQ was launched in August 2017.
According to beIN, its rival has “brazenly” stolen its original coverage of top sporting events from around the globe and repackaged it as its own, even producing its own beoutQ-branded set-top boxes.
The website, which beIN said will be regularly updated with details of legal challenges it launches against its rival, outlines how beoutQ has illegally broadcast premium sports and entertainment content worth billions of dollars since it was launched, stealing other media groups’ content as well as its own.
It claims that while beoutQ began life as a website that was geo-blocked to Saudi Arabia, it has grown to become “the most sophisticated piracy operation that the world has ever seen”.
beIN alleges that its Saudi rival inserts its own logos and branding over its own and other media firms’ content, allowing it to sell subscriptions, carrying separate advertising, and add its own commentary.
The website claims that beoutQ illegally broadcasts live sports content every day, stolen from rights holders including Fifa, Uefa, the Premier League, LaLiga and other football leagues, as well as the NFL, the NBA, world tennis, Formula 1 and the Olympics.
Evidence published on the website links beoutQ with Saud al-Qahtani, an advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has been implicated in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Commenting on the allegations featured on the new website, Yousef Al-Obaidly, CEO if the beIN Media Group, said: “For the past 18 months beoutQ has brazenly stolen on a daily basis the commercial rights of almost every major sports rights holder and every movie studio around the world; and attempted to sabotage our broadcast business at the same time.
“We have a very simple message on behalf of the whole sports and entertainment industry: we will not cease our fight against this unprecedented piracy operation until it is eradicated.”
EU Intellectual Property Office strips McDonald’s of ‘Big Mac’ trademark after battle with small Irish rival
The EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has stripped McDonald’s of its Big Mac trademark across Europe after the fact food giant lost a legal battle with a tiny rival chain in Ireland.
After a “David and Goliath” legal battle over the trademarking of the terms “Big Mac” and “Mc”, the EUIPO ruled in favour of Galway-based Supermac, telling McDonald’s that it had failed to prove “genuine use” of the terms in relation to a burger or restaurant.
The ruling means that other companies can use the terms, which McDonald’s trademarked in 1996.
Legal documents show the case was brought before the EUIPO in 2017 after McDonald’s objected to its smaller rival planning to expand into Britain and Europe.
Although Supermac does not and has never sold a product named “Big Mac”, McDonald’s argued that the company’s name sounded too similar to its most-famous burger, which it claimed would give the Irish firm an unfair advantage.
Supermac urged the EUIPO to revoke McDonald’s ownership of the “Mc” and “Big Mac” trademarks, accusing its much-larger competitor of “trademark bullying” and arguing that it registered protected names without using them in a bid to stifle competition.
The Irish firm noted that McDonald’s had trademarked the name of one of its most popular products, the SnackBox, even though the American company has never sold a product with that name.
EU rules stipulate that if a trademark has not been used for five years, the owner loses protection for it.
Dismissing McDonald’s claim, the EUIPO said in its ruling: “It follows from the above that the [trademark] proprietor has not proven genuine use of the contested [trademark] for any of the goods and services for which it is registered.
“As a result, the application for revocation is wholly successful and the contested [trademark] must be revoked in its entirety.”
Speaking with the Irish Independent after the ruling was handed down, Supermac founder and Manging Director Pat McDonagh said: “It’s been a long road, nearly four years, but it was worth it to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals.
“It doesn’t matter how big or how small you are, it’s great that you can get a hearing from the European office. I’m delighted with the result; I was hopeful for a positive outcome – but not to the extent to which we won.”
McDonald’s, which has yet to comment on the court’s ruling, can now appeal the decision.
- Customs officers in Taiwan catch woman smuggling dozens of gerbils strapped to her legs
- Al Jazeera-owned beIN Media Group publishes sports content piracy allegations against Saudi rival
- Australian police arrest Malaysian flight attendants accused of helping drugs gang smuggle heroin and crystal meth
- EU Intellectual Property Office strips McDonald’s of ‘Big Mac’ trademark after battle with small Irish rival
- Police in Belgium and Portugal dismantle organised crime gang behind sham marriage conspiracy
9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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