The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was negotiated by 37 countries and the EU between 2008-2011, to improve the international framework for fighting counterfeiting and piracy, and increase cooperation in tackling these problems. It has been signed by 31 countries in the EU and elsewhere.
At its heart, ACTA is an agreement that exports the EU standards for enforcement of intellectual property (IP) protection to the rest of the world. It updates the 20-year-old global IP enforcement standards of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in ways consistent with EU law. When put in force, ACTA will help promote EU trade abroad and protect EU companies, products and jobs while maintaining the EU’s respect for civil liberties, privacy and other important fundamental rights and freedoms.
This paper describes the benefits of ACTA for improving international trade in the EU’s innovative, cultural and branded goods; establishes a fact-based assessment; reviews the need to address the growing problem of large-scale counterfeiting and piracy; and provides an overview of the function and legal framework of ACTA and its alignment with EU laws.
Benefits of ACTA. ACTA helps modernize and level the playing field world-wide with respect to IP enforcement, consistent with EU law.
- ACTA protects EU companies of all sizes abroad, promotes the EU’s trade with the world, and supports EU economic growth.
- ACTA protects EU jobs, EU consumers and the economy from commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy globally.
- ACTA provides a helpful update to international trade rules, given the globalisation of trade in IP-based goods and services.
- ACTA principally addresses physical counterfeiting. It simply makes clear that existing IP enforcement rules that apply in the physical world also apply online.
- ACTA helps countries work together to tackle more effectively commercial-scale IP infringements.
What ACTA provides and why it is in line with the EU Acquis. The text of ACTA is structured around general ‘initial provisions’ that set its international context, several specific enforcement rules, and further best practices and international cooperation mechanisms. Throughout the agreement,
- ACTA updates and improves the international IP enforcement framework consistent with TRIPs; and,
- ACTA codifies EU IP enforcement rules in ways fully compatible with the EU acquis.
The Impact of ACTA
ACTA marks an important step forward in bringing international law up to date in the area of intellectual property enforcement. ACTA is fully consistent with the laws of the EU and its Member States. It will encourage the EU’s trading partners to implement these EU rules as their own, thereby protecting EU products more effectively abroad, promoting EU trade on a more level playing field world-wide, boosting EU economic growth and protecting EU jobs and European consumers. ACTA expressly includes protection for civil liberties, fair processes, privacy and the other important fundamental rights and values of the EU. As described in this paper, the ratification of ACTA will provide important global support for the EU’s innovative, cultural and branded sectors – and the numerous jobs and other economic benefits that they generate.