Between 20, Star Hub went after bootleg set-top box sellers who decoded the pay-TV operator’s encrypted broadcast signals and give users free access to channels.

Mr Leong noted that these cases circumvented the encryption method, and constituted a clear offence.

When contacted at the time, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) reaffirmed its stance that only set-top boxes with decoding capabilities are illegal. The devices highlighted in (the 2014 incident) were designed to decode encrypted broadcast signals, allowing users full access to TV programmes without paying subscription fees.

Mr Gane had voiced concerns over the “overt sales” of set-top boxes in malls and IT fairs.

This, he said, is rarely seen “in such volume” in other parts of the region.

“What are predominantly sold in Sim Lim Square and at Singapore’s many IT exhibitions are illicit streaming devices preloaded with piracy enabling applications.

They are not ‘empty’ and therefore ‘legal’ boxes,” he said.

TODAY had reported last month about legal set-top boxes flying off the shelves at Sim Lim Square.

This was after the CAP — whose members include major entertainment companies — said the devices facilitate “rampant” piracy in Singapore.

Apart from content producers, rights owners of different industries — such as fashion houses or drinks manufacturers for example — have been known to cooperate with one another to bring prosecution against alleged offenders, said Mr Gilbert Leong, a lawyer from Dentons Rodyk.

“It shows that as an industry, they are concerned,” he added.

The latest action against the two companies are different, he reiterated.

Lawyer Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons added that the case would be the “first of its kind”, and it would be interesting to see “what kind of decision the court arrives at”.

The Straits Times obtained a copy of US court transcripts, which showed that Chow, a US citizen, had cut a plea deal to help US prosecutors in their probe against the company and its American unit, Keppel Offshore & Marine USA.