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The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has issued a statement on behalf of Australia, Canada, the European Union and its member states, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States, who have reaffirmed their commitment to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) at a signing ceremony in Tokyo.
When it enters into force with all participants, the ACTA will formalize the legal foundation for a first-of-its-kind alliance of trading partners, representing more than half of world trade. It is hoped that it will represent a significant achievement in the fight against the infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR), in particular the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy on a global scale, providing a mechanism for the parties to work together in a more collaborative manner to achieve the common goal of effective IPR enforcement.
It includes provisions on civil, criminal, border and digital environment enforcement measures, robust cooperation mechanisms among the ACTA parties to assist in their enforcement efforts, and the establishment of best practices for effective IPR enforcement.
With respect to the legal framework, the ACTA establishes a strengthened standard that builds on the minimum standards of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It is said that this marks a considerable improvement in international trade norms for effectively combating the current global proliferation of commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy.
Representatives of eight governments – Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the US – signed the agreement. Representatives of the European Union, Mexico and Switzerland attended the ceremony and confirmed their continuing strong support for and preparations to sign it as soon as practicable. All participants expressed their firm resolve to work cooperatively to achieve the ACTA’s prompt entry into force, and to support actively its goals.
Formal ACTA negotiations started in June 2008, with the final round of negotiations being held in Japan in October 2010. Following translation and technical work, the ACTA was opened for signature on May 1, 2011. For those who have already signed, the next step in bringing the ACTA into force is the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval. The agreement will enter into force following the deposit of the sixth such instrument.
Furthermore, at a symposium in Sendai, Japan on September 30 this year, participants in the ACTA negotiations invited other trading partners to consider joining this emerging consensus on stronger IPR enforcement.
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