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ACTA Negotiations Progress, But No Draft Text

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

26 August 2010

The statement by the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) partners regarding their recent round of negotiations, in Washington, D.C. from August 16-20, said that discussions were further advanced in all sections of the agreement.

Participants, in what was the 10th round of negotiations, included Australia, Canada, the European Union, represented by the European Commission, the EU Presidency (Belgium) and EU member states, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.

Based on the progress made in the previous round in Lucerne, Switzerland, at the end of June this year, the statement said that the participants advanced their discussions in all sections of the agreement, including the general obligations, civil enforcement, border measures, criminal enforcement, enforcement measures in the digital environment, international cooperation, enforcement practices, and institutional arrangements.

Participants stressed the importance of ACTA as an agreement that “will establish an international framework for their efforts to more effectively combat the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy, which undermines legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy.”

While ACTA is said to aim at establishing effective enforcement standards for existing intellectual property rights, it is also said not to be “intended to include new intellectual property rights or to enlarge or diminish existing intellectual property rights.”

According to the statement, ACTA will not interfere with a signatory’s ability to respect fundamental rights and liberties, and will be consistent with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

The ACTA negotiators also reiterated that ACTA will not hinder the cross-border transit of legitimate generic medicines, and reaffirmed that patents will not be covered in the Section on Border Measures. ACTA will not oblige border authorities to search travelers’ baggage or their personal electronic devices for infringing materials, they said.

However, while they agreed to publicly release the full text of the agreement “before deciding to sign it,” the decision not to release its modified draft at this stage has led to accusations of a lack of transparency, and concern as to its actual terms from some quarters, particularly those concerned with internet and digital rights.

The next meeting will be held in Japan next month. Participants committed to resolving remaining substantive issues at that round.

TAGS: Morocco | patents | TRIPS | European Commission | Belgium | commerce | law | intellectual property | copyright | Australia | Mexico | Singapore | internet | e-commerce | Canada | New Zealand | Switzerland | United States | standards | regulation | European Union (EU) | Japan | Europe

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