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The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

What is the Proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)?

In 2007 a select handful of the wealthiest countries began a treaty-making process to create a new global standard for intellectual property rights enforcement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).  ACTA is spearheaded by the United States, the European Commission, Japan, and Switzerland — those countries with the largest intellectual property industries.  Other countries invited to participate in ACTA’s negotiation process are Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand.  Noticeably absent from ACTA’s negotiations are leaders from developing countries who hold national policy priorities that differ from the international intellectual property industry.

After the multi-lateral treaty’s scope and priorities are negotiated by the few countries invited to participate in the early discussions, ACTA’s text will be “locked” and other countries who are later “invited” to sign-on to the pact will not be able to re-negotiate its terms.  It is claimed that signing-on to the trade agreement will be "voluntary", but few countries will have the muscle to refuse an “invitation” to join, once the rules have been set by the select few conducting the negotiations.
 
The US is negotiating ACTA through the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), an office within the Bush Administration that has concluded more than 10 “free trade” agreements in recent years, all of which require both the US and the other country to increase intellectual property rights enforcement measures beyond the international legal norms in the WTO-TRIPS Agreement.
 
On 21 April 2010, the USTR released a proposed consolidated text of the ACTA treaty, although much remains in brackets (without agreement from the negotiating parties).  Sean Flynn has published a legal analysis of the released ACTA draft on the PIJIP ACTA IP Enforcement Database, which hosts a wealth of information on ACTA.
 
On 16-18 June 2010, 90 international experts from 5 continents, including legal academics, public interest organizations, practitioners met to discuss the public interest aspects of the ACTA agreement and drafted an International Civil Society Declaration to raise the public interest concerns.  Details for endorsing the declaration are available from  American University Washington College of Law / PIJIP, which hosted the meeting in Washington, DC (view webcast).
 
As of January 2009, no draft text had been published to provide the public with substance of the proposed international treaty, although a “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” was reportedly provided to select lobbyists in the intellectual property industry, but not to public interest organizations concerned with the subject matter of the proposed treaty.  ( Wikileaks posted the leaked ACTA discussion paper on 22 May 2008).

 

ACTA
  • 14 Jul, 2010: Updated Consolidated Text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
    The full consolidated text of the ACTA agreement, dated July 1st 2010 from the Luzern round of negotiations, including the name of the negotiating parties along with their positions. Sourced from the civil liberties committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament.

  • 23 Jun, 2010: Urgent Communique: International Experts Find that Pending Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Threatens Public Interests
    A gathering of over 90 legal academics, practitioners, and public interest organizations from 6 continents met at American University Washington College of Law last week to draft an Urgent Communique concerning the public interest aspects of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The international experts found that ACTA is a deeply flawed proposal created by a deeply flawed process ...

  • 19 Jun, 2010: Sign the International Civil Society Declaration on the Public Interest Concerns of the Proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
    Please consider endorsing the International Civil Society Declaration, which was the result of a meeting in Washington, DC (16-18 June 2010) of over 90 academics from 5 continents, public interest organizations and other legal experts concerned with the public interest aspects of ACTA. ACTA is a dangerous proposal to radically expand intellectual property rights at the global level. ...

  • 29 Apr, 2010: Draft Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Finally Revealed
    After 2 years of secret negotiations and numerous complaints about the lack of transparency in the treaty drafting process, on 21 April 2010 the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) finally released a draft of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Most early fears about the draft treaty have been confirmed in the release...

  • 6 Nov, 2009: Lack of Transparency Surrounding Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Negotiations Causes Concern For Many Public Interest Groups
    The proposed global treaty to address intellectual property rights in a digital environment spurs letters, petitions to US Obama Administration to open the process to public view. The public interest and the concerns of developing countries and small business have been left out of international treaty negotiation process to date providing a skewed proposal, a new leak has confirmed.

  • 6 May, 2009: EFF & PK: Government Still Blocking Information on Secret IP Enforcement Treaty
    Broken Promises from the Obama Administration Keep Americans in the Dark About ACTA. Public interest groups today called on the US government to stop blocking the release of information about a secret intellectual property trade agreement with broad implications for privacy and innovation around the world. EFF and Public Knowledge said that the April 30th release of 36 pages ...

  • 14 Mar, 2009: Canada Favours Early Release of ACTA Text (Geist)
    "While the U.S. claims that ACTA documents are a matter of national security and the European Parliament demands greater transparency, it would appear that the Canadian delegation would favour an early release of the draft treaty. According to a confidential November 2008 memorandum that was prepared for Stockwell Day, the Minister of International Trade obtained under the Access to ...

  • 13 Mar, 2009: Who are the cleared advisors that have access to secret ACTA documents? (KEI)
    "The negotiating text of ACTA and many other documents, including even the lists of participants in the negotiations, are secret. The US White House claims the secrecy is required as a matter of "national security". But that does not mean the documents are off limits to everyone outside of the government. Hundreds of advisors, many of them corporate lobbyists, ...

  • 12 Mar, 2009: European Parliament to EU: Turn over ACTA docs! (Ars Technica)
    The European Parliament has demanded more transparency in the EU, and it made a point of singling out the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Parliament has been considering a general transparency bill, but one amendment to the bill demanded access to ACTA documents—access that negotiators have so far been unwilling to provide. "In accordance with Article 255(1) of the ...

  • 12 Mar, 2009: Copyright treaty is classified for ‘national security’ (CNET)
    "President Obama's White House has tightened the cloak of government secrecy still further, saying in a letter this week that a discussion draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and related materials are "classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958." The 1995 Executive Order 12958 allows material to be classified only if disclosure would do ...

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