India And China Claim That ACTA Violates Earlier IP Agreements
from the at-least-someone's-fighting... dept
Recently, we noted that India and some other countries were gearing up to oppose ACTA, as it presents a huge problem for a variety of developing countries. India should know. It’s still getting over the troubles created by TRIPS, which forced it to make some massive changes to its IP laws, which multiple studies have shown to have caused trouble for India. So it doesn’t seem to keen to sign up for yet another, even more draconian, set of IP rules. Michael Geist points us to some notes from the recent WTO meeting where India (along with China, and some other developing nations) expressed their serious concerns with ACTA, including that it appears to violate the TRIPS agreement that they’ve already signed onto:
Briefly, China’s and India’s lengthy statements argued that ACTA and other agreements could:
Conflict with TRIPS Agreement (a reference to TRIPS Art.1.1) and other WTO agreements, and cause legal uncertainty
Undermine the balance of rights, obligations and flexibilities that were carefully negotiated in the various WTO agreements
Distort trade or create trade barriers, and disrupt goods in transit or transhipment
Undermine flexibilities built into TRIPS (such as for public health, and trade in generic medicines)
Undermine governments’ freedom to allocate resources on intellectual property by forcing them to focus on enforcement
Set a precedent that would require regional and other agreements to follow suit. (One example cited was negotiations involving CARIFORUM, the group of Caribbean states. However, a delegation representing CARIFORUM said it understood the concerns but denied that CARIFORUM would have to apply ACTA’s provisions.)
They also argued that the focus on enforcement did not take into account a country’s level of development.
A number of developing countries broadly supported the concern.
Not too surprisingly, ACTA supporters hit back, but note how they avoid some of the bigger issues here:
ACTA participants voiced their concerns about what they saw as a steadily increasing level of counterfeiting and piracy. They countered that the draft ACTA agreement will not conflict with TRIPS and other WTO provisions. They denied it would upset the negotiated balance, distort legitimate trade or undermine TRIPS flexibilities. One said generic medicines would not be affected since ACTA does not deal with patents.
They said that ACTA was necessary because counterfeiting is no longer a question of products such as fake luxury watches, but involves commercial scale production of fake medicines, car and aircraft parts and other products, which are dangerous to health and safety, and that developing countries are particularly vulnerable.
Some of them also said they had to get together outside the WTO because countries had opposed discussing enforcement substantively in the TRIPS Council.
That claim about ACTA not dealing with patents is news to us. Both the leaked and the released draft still had language suggesting that at least some negotiators used language such that ACTA applied broadly to all intellectual property. If they’re really dropping patents from ACTA, that would certainly be news. Jamie Love noted at a recent meeting that Steve Metalitz, who is a lawyer representing the entertainment industry, has said that patents are being dropped from ACTA. Hopefully it’s true, but until we actually see that, who knows whether it’s really happening.
As for the claims that ACTA is “necessary,” that’s clearly bogus. Also, it’s amusing to note that the “necessary” part focuses on the typical fear mongering points of fake medicines. If they want to stop fake medicines and fake aircraft parts, fine. Then create a document that does that. The problem is that ACTA supporters hide under those claims to lump in a ton of unrelated stuff, which is where many of the concerns come from.
Separately, Love also notes that Metalitz claims that it’s “not appropriate” for trading partners to discuss fair use in ACTA. Huh? This is an argument we’ve seen before, and it makes absolutely no sense. ACTA’s copyright provisions include all sorts of aggressive enforcement requirements, and without clear fair use exceptions, those enforcement rules strip copyright of most of its key balancing points. The whole ACTA process continues to be a sham.