ACTA includes confusingly similar trade mark goods

The latest text of ACTA includes confusingly similar trade mark goods. This is bad for access to essential medicines. In an answer to a parliamentary question, the EU Commission wrote: “b) on the inappropriate seizures of medicines on the strength of mere allegations that trademarks are similar – the introduction of the concept of “confusingly similar trademark is proposed by one of the ACTA partners but not supported by any of the other;”

But ACTA lacks a clear footnote like footnote 27 in the EU – Korea free trade agreement, limiting “goods infringing an intellectual property right” to “(a) counterfeit goods (…)”. ACTA’s criminal measures are limited to counterfeit goods (as far as trademarks are concerned). Some of the civil trademark measures are limited to counterfeit goods. Continue Reading →

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ACTA criminalises ordinary companies and individuals

Brussels, 11 November 2010 — The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) criminalises ordinary companies and individuals, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). In an open letter to the European Parliament, the FFII urges the Parliament to obtain the opinion of the Court of Justice as to whether ACTA is compatible with the EU Treaties. In its letter, the FFII points out ACTA’s criminal measures will bring three major changes compared with the 1994 World Trade Organization TRIPS agreement. First, ACTA is not limited to distribution of copyrighted works, but includes unauthorised use. Second, ACTA removes the scale element from the definition of the crime. Continue Reading →

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Emine Bozkurt (S&D, NL): ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)

Question for written answer P-9459/2010 to the Commission
Rule 117 Emine Bozkurt (S&D)

Subject: ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)
The Commission submitted the final text on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) on 6 October. Regarding the text of the agreement and the finalising of the details, can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. The ACTA agreement proposes an annual meeting of signatories where amendments to the Treaty can be negotiated. If that happens, how will the Commission guarantee sufficient European Parliament oversight, scrutiny and participation? The ACTA negotiations have so far been criticised for their lack of open debate, transparency and public participation. Continue Reading →

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European Parliament wants transatlantic ACTA debate

Today adopted: European Parliament resolution of 11 November 2010 on the forthcoming EU-US Summit and the Transatlantic Economic Council

42. Emphasises the importance of close transatlantic cooperation on the digital agenda, such as the digital market, internet freedom in the world, net neutrality, the right of privacy, common standards, transparency and the rule of law in relation to ACTA;

43. Considers it essential to develop a joint EU-US action strategy for the enforcement of intellectual property rights which aims to fight the soaring global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods; calls for the creation of a transatlantic task force to combat counterfeiting as a much-needed sign of political determination to tackle illegal activities which erode the competitiveness of innovative and creative industries, whilst respecting civil liberties, freedom of expression, privacy and due process. Continue Reading →

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Marietje Schaake (D66, NL): ACTA – a law enforcement treaty?

Question for written answer E-8847/2010 to the Commission Rule 117
Marietje Schaake (ALDE)
Subject: ACTA – a law enforcement treaty? There is public concern worldwide about the lack of formal transparency
in the ACTA negotiation process, such as illustrated in the article
‘ACTA Guide, Part Three: Transparency and ACTA Secrecy’, by Professor
Michael Geist (see http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4737/125/). Other articles and open letters can be found at the following shortened
addresses: http://bit.ly/4EdMKK, http://bit.ly/4CJv2n,
http://bit.ly/bdUGlx and http://bit.ly/aQDUO2. Parliament has repeatedly asked the Commission for transparency in the
ACTA negotiations, but to no avail. 1. Continue Reading →

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FFII: ACTA goes beyond present EU laws

Brussels, 25 October 2010 — The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is not in line with present EU laws, according to a Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) analysis. Previously, the European Commission has often stated that ACTA would remain fully in line with existing EU legislation. Health groups have pointed out that ACTA will hamper access to essential medicine in developing countries. FFII’s analysis focusses on the impact ACTA will have on European SMEs in the ICT field, and on diffusion of green technology, needed to fight climate change. The FFII concludes that patents have to be excluded from ACTA’s civil enforcement section. Continue Reading →

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Help to debug the European Commissioner

The Commission often says nice things about ACTA. But as Christian Engström (Pirate MEP) remarked in the European Parliament – “however, when you look at the text …” That is what we want to do, we want to look at the text and check the facts, crowdsource that effort to find “counterfeit legislation” in ACTA. Let’s start with a statement of EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht:
“…EU’s position [in ACTA] is consistent with the provisions of the Copyright in the Information Society Directive(2) including Article 8 thereof, the E-commerce Directive(3), including Articles 12 to 15, on the liability of ISPs), the Enforcement of IPR Directive(4); the Data Protection Directives(5); and with the provisions of the regulatory framework for electronic communications as amended in 2009 with the Telecom Reform package.” Of course you may have noticed the first trick, the term “EU’s position”. Continue Reading →

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Article 83 TFEU

Article 83
(ex Article 31 TEU)
1. The European Parliament and the Council may, by means of directives adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of such offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis. These areas of crime are the following: terrorism, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime. On the basis of developments in crime, the Council may adopt a decision identifying other areas of crime that meet the criteria specified in this paragraph. It shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. Continue Reading →

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ACTA undermining access to medicines (E-4292/2010)

Parliamentary questions 16 June 2010 E-4292/2010 Question for written answer to the Commission  Rule 117
Yannick Jadot (Verts/ALE) , Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE) , Sandrine Bélier (Verts/ALE) , Christian Engström (Verts/ALE) , Karima Delli (Verts/ALE) and Oriol Junqueras Vies (Verts/ALE)

Subject: Lack of safeguards in ACTA undermining access to medicines

In the WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council), the enforcement of intellectual property rights is a topic of formal discussion including, but not limited to, discussion of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The WTO is also the forum in which India and Brazil are pursuing consultations with the EU over seizures of in-transit generic drugs on grounds of alleged patent infringement. Our reading of ACTA is that it pursues tighter enforcement but without the balance and safeguards embodied in the TRIPS Agreement (e.g. Articles 1, 6, 7, 8, 30, 31, 40, 41, 42 and 44(2) thereof). Certain provisions in ACTA may present barriers to trade in legitimate generic medicines by failing to provide protection for goods in transit through countries with differing national patent rules, thus allowing inappropriate seizures of medicines on the strength of mere allegations that trademarks are similar; by providing brand-name companies with inappropriate access to confidential information about suppliers or customers; or by introducing new global norms on third-party liability and criminal sanctions for aiding and abetting infringement that will deter distributors and customers from working with legitimate generic firms. Collectively these news norms may frustrate countries’ efforts to avail themselves of TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to medicine, and may conflict with the recently adopted ‘Council Conclusions on the EU role in Global Health’ (e.g. paragraph 16(a) thereof). Will the Commission act on Parliament’s request of 10 March 2010 for an impact assessment of ACTA and ‘consult with Parliament in a timely manner about the results of the assessment’? Continue Reading →

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Filip Kaczmarek asked the Commission about a digital impact

Parliamentary questions 2 July 2010 P-5214/2010 Question for written answer to the Commission  Rule 117 Filip Kaczmarek (PPE)

Subject: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — ACTA

Many people feel that provisions contained in the Anti‑Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) make telecom operators liable for copyright infringements committed by customers using their networks. In the Commission’s view, does this mean that, in practice, operators will be required to remove Internet access from customers whom they suspect of copyright infringement – without proper judicial review of such actions – in order not to incur penalties? Could this also lead to Internet traffic being filtered in order to put a stop to practices such as P2P file sharing? Does it consider the introduction of ACTA provisions concerning the Internet to be in full accordance with the acquis communautaire, in particular, the Charter of Fundamental Rights? 24 August 2010 P-5214/2010 Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission

Regarding the responsibility and duties of Internet service providers (ISPs) such as telecommunications operators, the European Union’s position in ACTA is fully in line with the relevant EU acquis as interpreted by the Court of Justice in relation to the liability of telecommunications operators for infringement of intellectual property rights(1). Continue Reading →

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ACTA – outstanding issues (E-8295/2010)

Parliamentary questions 12 October 2010 E-8295/2010

Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117
Franziska Keller (Verts/ALE) and Oriol Junqueras Vies (Verts/ALE)

Subject: ACTA — outstanding issues

In its resolution of 10 March 2010, Parliament:
— was ‘deeply concerned that no legal base was established before the start of the ACTA negotiations and that parliamentary approval for the negotiating mandate was not sought’;
— instructed the Commission to conduct impact assessments ‘prior to any EU agreement on a consolidated ACTA treaty text’. A Commission trade spokesperson informed MEPs that the negotiators in Tokyo had ‘produced a consolidated and largely finalised text’ and that the Government of Japan had ‘hosted informal meetings’ with business leaders(1);

The Commission has silently withdrawn the IPRED2 proposal for a directive on criminal sanctions (2005/0127/COD)(2). The Commission relies on the studies produced for IPRED2 to assess the impact of implementing ACTA(3). 1. In the Commission’s view, how does the legislative character of ACTA reflect on obligations under Article 15 TFEU (good governance and participation of civil society), Article 21 TEU (advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms) and the Venice Convention (promoting democracy through law), in particular in respect of enforcement procedures and so-called ‘cooperative efforts’ to address infringements of intellectual property rights in the digital environment? Continue Reading →

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Article 207 TFEU

The legal base for the Commission’s DG Trade negotiations of ACTA is Article 207 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Article 207
(ex Article 133 TEC)
1. The common commercial policy shall be based on uniform principles, particularly with regard to changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of tariff and trade agreements relating to trade in goods and services, and the commercial aspects of intellectual property, foreign direct investment, the achievement of uniformity in measures of liberalisation, export policy and measures to protect trade such as those to be taken in the event of dumping or subsidies. The common commercial policy shall be conducted in the context of the principles and objectives of the Union’s external action. 2. Continue Reading →

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