ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Patently Dangerous

A proposal to draft a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting treaty among developed countries needs global resistance.

In April this year an official draft of a proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was released by the countries which have been negotiating it for the past few years. Done in near total secrecy, the ACTA negotiations involve almost all the developed countries of the world and a few developing countries as well.

The countries pursuing ACTA have stated that this is a voluntary plurilateral agreement to stop trade in counterfeit products. However, the negotiations held thus far and the consultations that have been held with the “relevant” stakeholders reveal that the biggest beneficiaries of ACTA will be the global pharmaceutical majors, the big “content creators” in films, music and internet, as well as assorted companies, which are finding their control over technology undermined by the global spread of telecommunications and education. The proposals that are on the table, if accepted, could have far-reaching implications for products that are “suspected” of violating intellectual property rights in any of the countries that would be signatories to the agreement. According to the proposals, action can be taken against a product suspected of being “counterfeit” even when the product in question has not entered the customs territory of one of the ACTA signatory countries but is merely in transit. A mere complaint by the intellectual property holder can single out a product or service as “counterfeit” and the ACTA member country would then be able to not only destroy the “counterfeit” but also take punitive actions against those involved in its trading.

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