For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

After the Seventh Veil: ACTA to reveal all after Round 8

The IPKat received a press release concerning the 8th round of negotiations on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was held last week in Wellington, New Zealand. It reads, in relevant part:

"... Participants in the negotiations included Australia, Canada, the European Union ..., the EU Presidency (Spain) and EU Member States, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States of America.
The Participants had constructive and intensive discussions. They provided a much improved understanding of respective national regimes and how they worked in practice. Based on this understanding, good progress was made toward narrowing existing differences, in the areas of Civil Enforcement, Border Measures, Criminal Enforcement and Special Measures for the Digital Environment. In addition the participants held constructive discussions regarding the scope of intellectual property rights covered in ACTA [The IPKat finds it bewildering and embarrassing that, after so many decades of harmonisation, information exchange and inter-government cooperation, there is still so much that the major IP owning nations didn't know and understand about each other's laws and modus operandi].

Overall, therefore, there was a general sense from this session that negotiations have now advanced to a point where making a draft text available to the public will help the process of reaching a final agreement [it's not just "the public" to whom the draft is being made available but to people and organisations possessing a wide range of specialist and professional skill and expertise, who have so far been excluded]. For that reason, and based on the specific momentum coming out of this meeting, participants have reached unanimous agreement that the time is right for making available to the public the consolidated text coming out of these discussions, which will reflect the substantial progress made at this round.

It is intended to release this on Wednesday 21 April.

In agreeing to release publicly this draft text in the particular circumstances of this negotiation, participants reaffirmed the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of their respective positions in trade negotiations. [None of these participants, presumably, are representative democracies in which governments are called to account by their electorates for the positions which they take]

ACTA will not interfere with a signatory’s ability to respect its citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties [is this a statement of fact or an expression of intent?], and will be consistent with the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and will respect the Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health [ditto].

There is no proposal to oblige ACTA participants to require border authorities to search travellers’ baggage or their personal electronic devices for infringing materials [does this mean that it is simply an optional extra?]. In addition, ACTA will not address the cross-border transit of legitimate generic medicines [this raises the interesting question of what constitutes "legitimate" -- the term "non-infringing" is not used].

While the participants recognise the importance of responding effectively to the challenge of Internet piracy, they confirmed that no participant is proposing to require governments to mandate a ‘graduated response’ or ‘three strikes’ approach to copyright infringement on the Internet.[Once again, this presumably leaves it as an optional extra]

The participants agreed that the next meeting would be hosted by Switzerland in June 2010. They also reaffirmed their commitment to continue their work with the aim of concluding ACTA as soon as possible in 2010".
For further information, readers are invited to visit the European Commission's anti-counterfeiting page here.

The IPKat and Merpel will be waiting excitedly to see what precisely is unveiled on 21 April, and what happens thereafter.

Dance of the Seven Veils here

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