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The International Trademark Association (INTA) and representatives from ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative participated in a public meeting organized by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) today.

They called on all negotiating governments of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to work towards significantly strengthening international guidelines and standards that would lead to more effective national intellectual property (IP) enforcement regimes.

At the meeting, INTA and ICC stressed the risks to economic development, consumer safety and international trade due to the worldwide proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy. The business groups reiterated that the essential aim of governments negotiating ACTA must be to put in place tangible laws and systems sufficient to reduce IP theft through counterfeiting and piracy. To date, efforts by legitimate businesses and law enforcement officials have simply not kept pace with the criminals; existing international IP enforcement standards have not sufficiently empowered governments to tackle the problem currently eroding intellectual capital and economic growth.

To enable ACTA to deliver stronger guidelines for governments, INTA and ICC have coordinated more than twenty industry associations worldwide – many of which are located in ACTA negotiating countries – to provide informal input to the process. Collectively, business has attempted to provide a common, global perspective on relevant topics under discussion at each meeting of the ACTA negotiators, including recommendations on the general framework of the ACTA agreement as well as considerations for border measures and civil enforcement.

ACTA has enormous potential to raise the global bar on IP protection, and ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban has welcomed the progress of the negotiating parties, though he added some words of caution: “In order to be relevant, ACTA must deliver significant improvements over existing multilateral guidelines by establishing stronger international standards for government performance on intellectual property enforcement.”

INTA and ICC BASCAP appreciate the USTR’s efforts to hold a public forum on the negotiations – which to date have included only officials from the participating countries and for which draft texts have yet to be released – and stand ready to provide further expertise to the negotiations.

Given the importance of ACTA to the negotiating parties and as a potential model for governments around the world, INTA and ICC have encouraged the negotiators to stay true to their announced objective to significantly deter IP theft. “We believe this can be accomplished only if the negotiating countries take a comprehensive approach to creating ACTA and devote the necessary time and resources to ensure that it becomes a truly higher standard for governments,” said INTA Executive Director, Alan C. Drewsen. “We remain optimistic that ACTA will become a reality and raise the profile and the protection of trademarks.”

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