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EC To Launch New Anti-Counterfeiting Initiative

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

24 October 2007

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it will seek a mandate from European Member States to negotiate a new Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) with major trading partners, including the US, Japan, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand.

Such an agreement would strengthen efforts to protect European intellectual property around the world, a key part of the EU's Global Europe trade strategy.

ACTA’s goal is to provide a high-level international framework that strengthens the global enforcement of intellectual property rights and helps in the fight to protect consumers from the health and safety risks associated with many counterfeit products.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson announced that:

"Europe has always been at the forefront of global attempts to protect intellectual property rights and fight counterfeiting. A new international anti-counterfeiting treaty will strengthen global cooperation and establish new international norms, helping to create a new global gold standard on IPR enforcement."

ACTA would contribute to fighting counterfeiting in three ways, namely:

  • Building international cooperation leading to harmonised standards and better communication between authorities. This will build on coordinated anti-counterfeiting work the EU is already doing with large partners like the US. These standards would then be spread to other countries if they wished to sign up to ACTA. The EU has proposed transitional mechanisms and technical assistance to help advanced developing countries join the pact in the future;
  • Establishing common enforcement practices to promote strong intellectual property protection in coordination with right holders and trading partners. The EU is consistently pushing countries like China to enforce anti-counterfeiting legislation and to toughen the legal penalties for intellectual property theft. Closer coordination on international benchmarks can reinforce this pressure; and
  • Creating a strong modern legal framework which reflects the changing nature of intellectual property theft in the global economy, including the rise of easy-to-copy digital storage mediums and the increasing danger of health threats from counterfeit food and pharmaceutical drugs.

The move has been welcomed by anti-piracy groups such as the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Commenting this week, Frances Moore, IFPI Executive Vice-President, stated that:

“The recording industry commends Commissioner Mandelson for this new initiative which will send a strong message that intellectual property is one of Europe’s most valuable assets. We are looking to the EU and its partners to make the fight against internet piracy a top priority.”

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