On February 25 at the RA Commercial Court the consideration of the suit by HSBC-Armenia versus “Golos Armenii” and “Yerkir” newspapers continued. This major Armenian bank had demanded the editions to refute the information disseminated on October 29, 2001 by “Noyan Tapan” news agency and published by them the next day. According to this information, HSBC-Armenia had violated the copyright of Ruben Hakobian (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 9-15, 2002). The claim of the bank to “Golos Armenii” and “Yerkir” was based on the conviction of the plaintiff that the news agency is not a mass communications medium, and therefore, the whole responsibility is to be shouldered by the newspapers.
At the session of February 22 the plaintiff restated its demand to the newspapers to publish a refutation, along with an editorial comment, explaining the reasons for the delay in publishing the disclaimer. Besides, the bank thinks that “Yerkir” newspaper has obliquely damaged its business reputation, by publishing the article “B. Gregory demands a refutation” on November 8, 2001. Accordingly, the plaintiff made a request of charging 2,480,000 drams (over $4,000) to “Yerkir”, while noting this amount is far too small if compared to the damage incurred, and will grow along with the procrastination in publishing refutation.
As it has already been reported, at the court session of February 18 a decision was made to have “Noyan Tapan” participating as a third entity on behalf of respondents (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 16-22, 2002). On February 25 the Director of “Noyan Tapan” news agency Tigran Haroutiunian stated during his appearance in the court that the claims of the bank can be addressed to the agency only, and never to the newspapers. He also confirmed that “Noyan Tapan” agency is registered with the RA Ministry of Justice as a mass medium and therefore bears responsibility for the information disseminated. Tigran Haroutiunian called upon HSBC-Armenia to revoke the suit against the newspapers and settle the dispute with “Noyan Tapan” directly, announcing his willingness to publish a refutation, if the invalidity of information on the copyright violation is proved.
The article “A Toy for a Lawyer” published in ”Golos Armenii” on February 28, 2002 named the court proceedings against the newspapers “an open derision of common sense”.