The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
In January 2012, the European Union and 22 of its member states signed The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), except Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus. In February 2012, some signatory countries, like Poland and Bulgaria, as well as non-signatory ones, announced the stop of the ratification process, mainly because of numerous protests that were held against ACTA.
ACTA cannot enter into force on the European Union without the ratification by all member states, and the approval of the European Parliament. On March 2012, the European Commission asked the European Court of Justice to assess whether the ACTA agreement violates the European Union’s fundamental human rights and freedoms, like freedom of expression and information, protection of personal data and intellectual property. This decision was adopted taking into account the pressure of the public opinion against this treaty. In case that the Parliament does not ratify the agreement, there would exist the possibility that some countries ratify this by themselves, but it would not have effects in the hall European Union.
The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international treatment “that aims to raise global standards of enforcement of intellectual property rights”, and in that way helping “countries work together to tackle large-scale Intellectual Property Rights violations”, in particular, the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy.
This agreement is compared with The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and The Protect IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA) from the United States, with the difference that ACTA is a multinational treaty.
ACTA was first developed by Japan and the United States in 2006. Official negotiations began in June 2008. The agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States and, as previously mentioned, in January 2012 it was signed by the European Union and 22 of its member states. Mexico and Switzerland attended negotiations but did not sign (the Senate of Mexico voted unanimously to withdraw from ACTA negotiations on September 2010).
No signatory country has ratified the agreement yet, which would come into force after ratification by 6 countries. “This Agreement shall remain open for signature by participants in its negotiation, and by any other WTO Members the participants may agree to by consensus, from 1 May 2011 until May 2013”.
The application or not of ACTA, will have effects all around the world, apart from being or not a signatory country. If this treaty is ratify by the majority of signatory member states, it will be an important antecedent in order to enforce Intellectual property politics in other countries, specially related with the international cooperation in this subject.-
In spite of the intention of the different signatory countries to achieve the approval of all of them, it is important to note that protests against ACTA are growing day by day and those make really difficult to enter ACTA into force.
- European Commission: “Statement by Commissioner Karel De Gucht on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)”
- European Commission: “ACTA – Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement”
- European Parliament
- Senate of Mexico
- Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property
- ACTA Article 40