Designed to protect jobs and consumer health
April 6, 2010 – BRUSSELS – The International Trademark Association (INTA) expressed strong support for the EU’s participation in the negotiations of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) today in conjunction with European Parliament hearing organized by Alexander Alvaro, MEP and Marietje Schaake, MEP. INTA reminded the EU officials that ACTA’s primary focus is to bring together developed and developing countries to negotiate an agreement that enhances international cooperation and contains effective international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights.
“As a representative of the majority of the negotiating countries in ACTA, the EU is a crucial presence in the negotiations and the formation of what we hope will be a gold standard agreement in protecting and enforcing intellectual property internationally,” said Gerhard Bauer, President Elect of INTA.
Intellectual property based industries are critical for Europe’s economic growth and for creating and maintaining jobs. However, in a recent study by Frontier Economics – commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Business Action Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) – 2.5 million jobs have been adversely impacted in the G20 countries as a result of counterfeiting and piracy. In the current economic climate, neither governments nor the public can afford to allow commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy to exacerbate Europe’s struggling economy.
Enforcing IP rights is also important in protecting the health and safety of consumers who can be seriously injured using counterfeit pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, personal care articles, toys and a host of other products. In a report on EU Customs enforcement of intellectual property rights for 2008, the European Commission stated that products potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers accounted for a total of 20 million items, or 11 percent of the total seized items.
ACTA would be one of the first international agreements designed specifically to combat counterfeiting in a harmonized and coordinated way, which is absolutely necessary to fight the highly sophisticated counterfeiting networks spanning multiple countries. Through ACTA, trademark owners hope to see:
- higher standards and stronger cooperation on combating counterfeiting;
- stronger border enforcement especially with relation to goods in transit;
- more effective criminal penalties;
- stronger international cooperation between enforcement bodies of the signatory countries; and
- increased cooperation between government and industry.
INTA welcomes and encourages increased transparency by the ACTA negotiators, but also understands the need by negotiators to maintain a certain level of discretion as the draft text is being developed. INTA appreciates the European Commission’s efforts to answer questions that have been raised in forums such as the stakeholder meeting that was held at the end of March 2010. Such initiatives to engage industry and the public have also been conducted by other governments, including the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. INTA encourages the continuation of stakeholder discussions and stands ready to assist the negotiating governments as the draft develops.
The ACTA negotiations offer a valuable opportunity to make significant progress in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy – crimes that span borders and affect all economies and people. This fight is a global challenge that requires a global solution – a solution that 37 countries have committed to reaching through ACTA. In short, this is an initiative that deserves widespread support.
The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a worldwide association of member companies and firms that support and advance trademarks and intellectual property as elements of fair and effective global commerce.