Even US Intellectual Property Organization Concerned About ACTA Being Too Broad & Changing US Laws
from the that's-not-how-it's-supposed-to-work dept
While those involved in the ACTA negotiations have mocked the concerns raised about the ACTA draft, and said that those who are complaining are merely repeating “wild internet rumors.” Of course, we’ve seen that’s not the case at all. A recent filing about ACTA, put together by a bunch of industry groups, highlighted many of the very real problems with ACTA. Of course, ACTA defenders still dismissed this, because they claimed that the report came from those industries who benefited from weakened IP laws.
I wonder how they’ll try to belittle this one. The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) recently sent its own letter to the US government complaining about the scope and specifics of ACTA (pdf). The Intellectual Property Owners Association is not exactly the sort of organization you can accuse of wanting weaker intellectual property. It’s also not an organization that I agree with very often (as you might imagine). But, in this letter, the group points out that ACTA appears to be way too broad and that, contrary to claims from ACTA negotiators, it seems clear that it would require changes to US law.
The letter first points out that ACTA should focus on the real problem of counterfeiting, but that the language (without any good reason) is made much broader with a focus on all “intellectual property”:
As currently drafted, given the expansive use of the broadly-defined term “intellectual property,” ACTA goes far beyond addressing the subject matter of counterfeiting. This broad definition encompasses issues that are most appropriately handled as civil infringement causes of action in most jurisdictions around the world, and especially so in the case of the United States.
Separately, the letter goes on to highlight multiple cases where ACTA would, in fact, change US law:
We believe ACTA potentially changes United States law by transforming what are the commonly occurring non-counterfeit-types of civil action infringements into activity that is to be punished under federal criminal law.
Among the examples of how it changes US law as currently written is the following:
ACTA is unwittingly broadening the scope of the seizure power of Customs and Border Patrol forces to encompass civil action trademark infringement and raising the specter of potential abuse in many countries around the globe. The determination of whether marks are similar and whether there is a likelihood of confusion should not be conducted hastily and in an ex parte manner by a border official, but should instead be based upon the appropriate legal analysis (possibly resulting from extensive pre-trial preparation and discovery where allowed).
Elsewhere, it notes that other language choices in the document clearly turn civil infringement into criminal infringement, and that it potentially makes keyword buying on trademarked terms on search engines infringing (even as US courts have mostly found that it is not infringing). As a final recommendation, the IPO suggests that ACTA actually be about what it’s supposed to be about, which is counterfeiting:
Thus, IPO urges USTR to review ACTA to ensure that the scope of the Act is appropriately limited to its stated purpose of addressing the limited, though important, subset of infringement known as “counterfeiting.”
So here we have a major pro-intellectual property trade group complaining about the scope and nature of ACTA — and specifically highlighting that it will change US law, despite insistence by negotiators that it would not. Are we now going to be told that the Intellectual Property Owners Association is a “front” for the anti-IP interests, as we were told about the groups who signed onto that last anti-ACTA document?