From: EDRI

A recent statement from the European Commission reveals that it has started
negotiations with US, Japan, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand to create an
international treaty on counterfeiting – Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
(ACTA), despite the absence of any independent data on the topic.

The European Commission is looking for a mandate from the European Member
States to proceed in this endeavour, but the ball is already rolling, taking
into consideration the almost simultaneous press statements from the US
Trade Representative and Canada’s Minister of International Trade as well.

But “while the claims regularly focus on health and safety risks or
suggestions that organized crime or terrorist groups benefit from
counterfeiting, the reality is that the policy prescription typically
includes a range of issues that have little to do with those issues”, as
Michael Geist puts it.

Even though the OECD estimates the losses of the international trade are 3-4
times lower than the ones the industry has so heavily promoted, the big
states still have their ears open to the industry lobbists’ claims.
EU announces that the new ACTA should build the international cooperation
leading to harmonised standards and a better communication between
authorities and should establish common enforcement practices to promote
strong intellectual property protection in coordination with right holders
and trading partners. Also it suggests “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.”

In fact, it seems that the negotiations have started since mid-2006 between
the European Commission, Canada, US and Japan on such an agreement on
counterfeiting. But ACTA aims higher. US Trade Representative Susan Schwab
explained that the negotiations would “expand upon the enforcement standards
of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPS) and countries would be encouraged to comply with other international
IPR agreements. The goal is to set a new, higher benchmark for enforcement
that countries can join voluntarily.”

Or, as Michael Geist better explains it: “This treaty could ultimately
prove bigger than WIPO – without the constraints of consensus building,
developing countries, and civil society groups, the ACTA could further
reshape the IP landscape with tougher enforcement, stronger penalties, and a
gradual eradication of the copyright and trademark balance.”