2 October 2011
Intellectual property rights would be strengthened under a “first-of-its-kind” alliance of trading partners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), signed by eight nations in Tokyo on October 1.
All 11 ACTA negotiating parties attended the signing ceremony. Representatives of Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States signed the agreement; representatives of the European Union, Mexico and Switzerland attended and confirmed their continuing support for the pact as they complete their domestic procedures to enable them to sign, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said.
“The ACTA provides a platform for the Obama administration to work cooperatively with other governments to advance the fight against counterfeiting and piracy,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.
Among its provisions, ACTA would:
• Require that border enforcement authorities be empowered to act on their own initiative against both imports and exports of counterfeit and pirated goods.
• Require that criminal enforcement authorities be able to act on their own initiative in piracy and counterfeit cases, rather than wait for a complaint.
• Further clarify existing international requirements for the availability of criminal penalties when piracy or counterfeiting is carried out for commercial advantage.
• Require criminal remedies against import or use of labels or packaging for counterfeit goods so that counterfeiters could not escape punishment by shipping labels or packaging separately from the products for which they are intended.
ACTA also will be the first agreement of its kind, according to a USTR fact sheet, “to include a binding commitment to address the scourge of piracy over digital networks, and to do so in a manner that respects fundamental values, such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy.”
“When it enters into force with all participants, the ACTA will formalize the legal foundation for a first-of-its-kind alliance of trading partners, representing more than half of world trade,” the negotiating parties said in a press statement.
ACTA opened for signature on May 1, 2011. Japan is the depositary of the agreement. Parties that have not yet signed may submit their signatures to Japan. For those who have already signed, the next step is the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval. The agreement enters into force following the deposit of the sixth such instrument.