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MEPs Lay Out Conditions For Approving ACTA

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

29 November 2010

The European Parliament (EP), while passing a resolution welcoming the terms of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as a step in the right direction, has called on the European Commission (EC) to confirm that it will have no impact on either basic freedoms or existing European Union (EU) legislation.

After three years and many rounds of negotiations, the participants in the ACTA, who together represent more than 50% of world trade and include Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States, announced earlier this month that the text of the agreement had been finalized and that it would be ready to be submitted to the participants’ respective domestic authorities for ratification.

The ACTA’s stated aim is to establish a comprehensive international framework that will assist parties to the agreement in their efforts to combat the infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR), in particular the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy, which undermines legitimate trade.

The EP, which now has the power to veto international agreements concluded by the EU, said that it is "fully aware that the agreement will not solve the complex and multi-dimensional problem of counterfeiting." However, it considers that "it is a step in the right direction."

The "negotiated text reflects the main concerns expressed by the EP over recent months," its resolution says, and it welcomes the EC's repeated statements that the ACTA will not go beyond or require any changes in the existing EU IPR legislation. It points out that, in this area, it believes that "EU law is already considerably more advanced than the current international standards."

Nonetheless, the EP calls on the EC "to confirm that the ACTA’s implementation will have no impact on fundamental rights and data protection, on the ongoing EU efforts to harmonize IPR enforcement measures, or on e-commerce."

Within the text of the agreement, the EP also notes that "neither personal searches nor the so-called ‘three strikes’ procedure will be introduced.” As it points out, "no ACTA signatory, and particularly not the EU, may be mandated to introduce 'three strikes' or similar regimes,” as an internet disconnection penalty for three online copyright infringements.

The ACTA has not yet been initialed by the EC, as a technical meeting to finalize its legal wording will take place in Sydney from November 30 to December 3, 2010.

TAGS: European Commission | commerce | law | intellectual property | copyright | agreements | internet | e-commerce | legislation | standards | European Union (EU) | Europe

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