Big news from over the weekend. Nearly 40 nations negotiated on Saturday, resulting in a tenative international trade pact aimed at reducing copyright and trademark theft. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’s (ACTA) key feature: customs officials have authority to seize counterfeit goods without a request from the rights holders or a court order, which is groundbreaking in terms of current policy.
The talks involved the US, the European Union (and its 27 member states), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland, Morocco and Mexico. And why are these countries so adamant about getting ACTA in place? The participating countries say their economies have suffered from a sharp increase in trade in fake and pirated goods much with the help of internet technology, which causes losses of billions of dollars annually, and essentially, the degradation of many nations’ apparel and accessories design and manufacturing sectors.
One aspect of the agreement that is still at issue: Europe’s demand that ACTA also include protection for its traditional food names, as well as for its fashion and car designs. The [arguably more realistic] US and some other countries appealed for a narrower agreement that would protect mainly copyright and trademarks, whose violation has ravaged profits in U.S. industries.
While there are still specific issues that the nations need to sort out before signing onto ACTA, this weekend’s negotiations are a landmark achievement says the US and the EU.