18 June 2009

TACD Fights ACTA on "IPRs"

One of the frustrating aspects about the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) is that it is a cosy club of rich and powerful nations plus a few of their equally rich and powerful chums in select industry. Meanwhile, hoi polloi - that's you and me - don't get a look in, even though we are the most affected.

So I was delighted to find that a group of like-minded consumer organisations are not only getting together, but starting to stand up for us on this important issue. Behold the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue:

is a forum of US and EU consumer organisations which develops and agrees joint consumer policy recommendations to the US government and European Union to promote the consumer interest in EU and US policy making.


The TACD working group on intellectual property was created in 2001. The European Co-Chair of the working group is Jill Johnstone of Consumer Focus in the UK. The US co-chair is James Love of Knowledge Ecology International. The TACD IP working group staff expert is Anne-Catherine Lorrain.

It has now put out a Resolution on the enforcement of copyright, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights. Here's what the TACD says about it:

The TACD Resolution comes at a time when governments in Europe and North America are considering a wide range of new global standards for IP enforcement. Among those new norms are the proposed “Anti-Counterfeiting” Trade Agreement (ACTA) [On April 6, 2009, USTR released a detailed summary of the current state of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations: http://www.ustr.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/factsheets/2009/asset_upload_file917_15546.pdf], new customs procedures through the World Customs Organization (WCO), anti-Counterfeiting measures at the World Health Organization (WHO), WTO disputes over enforcement, proposals in Europe for “graduated response” and other Internet filtering solutions, several European Union Directives and bills pending before the U.S. Congress and other countries on the topic of IP enforcement, bilateral trade agreements, and unilateral trade sanctions by Europe and the United States.

The 2,000 word TACD Resolution touches on a wide range of topics relating to IP enforcement policies and practices, ranging from transparency, evidence and process, to both general and detailed recommendations on substantive policies. TACD first discussed the Resolution with representatives from the European Union and the U.S. Government on June 9, 2009, during the TACD 10th Annual Meeting in Brussels.

The resolution itself is pretty sensible, requesting "Transparency and Openness", "Evidence and Analysis" amongst other things. As for ACTA, here's how it starts:

There should be no further meetings on the Anti-Counterfeiting Treaty until the EU and the US publish the full text of all negotiating documents, and agree to additional transparency measures, including the accreditation of consumers and/or their representatives as observers.

The term "counterfeit" should not be used to describe activities relating to the mere infringement of copyrights or trademarks where there is no intent to deceive or any likelihood of confusion as to the authorized manufacturer, distributor or provider of the service. Possible patent infringements should not be referred to as counterfeits.

It would be too much to expect the ACTA participants to pay much attention, but it takes things up yet another notch; one day, the pressure will be too much, and something will have to give.

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