Countries reach tentative anti-counterfeiting pact

TOKYO Sat Oct 2, 2010 2:10pm EDT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Nearly 40 nations reached agreement in principle on Saturday on an international trade pact aimed at reducing copyright and trademark theft that causes losses of billions of dollars annually.

"Participants in the negotiations constructively resolved nearly all substantive issues ... (and) agreed to work expeditiously to resolve the small number of outstanding issues," the United States, Japan, the European Union and other participating countries said in a joint statement.

In Washington, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the negotiations that took place in Tokyo were "almost across the finish line."

"In principle, we have found solutions, even on the most difficult issues. Nearly all of the parties embraced those solutions," Kirk said in a statement.

A key feature of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will mandate that customs officials have authority to seize counterfeit goods without a request from the rights holders or a court order, according to statements from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

The talks involved the United States, the European Union and its 27 member states, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland, and two developing countries -- Morocco and Mexico.

The participating countries say their economies have suffered from a sharp increase in trade in fake and pirated goods.

That has been aided by the Internet, which makes its easier for buyers and sellers of counterfeit goods to come together and also to distribute pirated music, movies and software.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has estimated that global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods rose from about $100 billion annually in 2000 to about $250 billion in 2007.

U.S. movie, music, software and other copyright-based industries calculate they lose more than $16 billion in sales each year from pirated versions of their products sold around the world.

China, the largest source of counterfeit goods found in international trade, has not been a party to the ACTA talks but founding members hope it will join in the future.

'LANDMARK ACHIEVEMENT'

"We are on the threshold of a landmark achievement in the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and the international alliance we are forging with parties representing half of global trade will be critical to fighting the theft of American jobs through trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy," Kirk said.

The United States and the EU have been at odds on one element of the pact: Europe's demand that it also include protection for its traditional food names like Parmesan cheese as well as for its fashion and car designs.

The United States and some other countries appealed for a narrower agreement that would protect mainly copyright and trademarks, whose violation has ravaged profits in the U.S. entertainment industry.

The joint statement did not address that issue.

"We've come a long way but we must still close the remaining gaps without which there will be no agreement," said a senior European Union official close to the negotiations.

Future topics include trying to expand the number of ACTA participants to include China, as well as the rest of Asia and other regions such as the Middle East.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo, additional reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck in Brussels and Doug Palmer in Washington; editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Will Dunham)

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Comments (6)
Sandy106 wrote:
Anyone who is reading this needs to know how serious a breach of privacy this bill is. It literally gives the authorities the right to sieze any device they suspect as having copy righted material on it. Customs can litearly sieze ipods, camcorders, computers, anything. This bill also gives ISPs the unrestricted right to monitor what internet sites and applications you use. If this bill passes, digital freedom will be dead.

Oct 02, 2010 3:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
nekko wrote:
“…customs officials have authority to seize counterfeit goods without a request from the rights holders or a court order,…”

So, guilty until proven innocent, eh? The ACTA, for what they make it out to be, is supposed to be this super-wonderful bill that keeps those horrible pirates at bay and counterfeit goods off our shelves.

Except for a few things; it crushes our civil liberties, destroys our right to privacy, creates whole new problems with censorship, and none of this money that is GOING to come from lawsuits is going to benefit the copyright holders anyway since the money is just going to the RIAA and the MPAA and other big name companies. It will also make it harder for third-world countries to obtain needed medicines because counterfeit goods are the only things they can procure at cost because name-brand and similar are too expensive and big name companies won’t sell them where they won’t make profit.

www.anti-acta.com

Stop the Kraken.

Oct 03, 2010 7:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
And it all happens without a shadow of due process and is entirely dependent on the honesty of the customs officials.

I’d love to know what they do with all the confiscated goods?

It might be best to buy used goods and few of them, if one can help it.

And I still remember when Nike’s were considered the sort of consumer junk designed to fetch fortunes from Ghetto kids who just couldn’t live without them but who really couldn’t afford them.

Somehow – I don’t think protecting the price structure of the pretentious is worth it.

Oct 03, 2010 8:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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