[Ip-health] Bridges Weekly: ACTA Faces Criticism at WTO and in the United States

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sun Nov 7 00:46:06 PDT 2010

Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest • Volume 14 • Number 38 • 3rd  
November 2010

ACTA Faces Criticism at WTO and in the United States


A nearly concluded multi-country agreement on counterfeiting came  
under fire at the WTO last week, as some members accused the deal,  
negotiated among a group of mostly industrialised country governments,  
of undermining multilateral cooperation and global rules on  
intellectual property.

The prospective Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is also  
facing questions within one of its leading proponents, the United  
States, surrounding uncertainty about whether clauses in the draft  
deal would contradict US law.

During the 26-27 October session of the WTO Council for Trade-related  
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), developing countries  
such as China and India expressed concerns about ACTA’s consistency  
with WTO intellectual property rules, raising the possibility of trade  
disputes if non-parties to ACTA end up affected by the future  
agreement’s provisions.

According to countries taking part in the ACTA negotiations, a final  
accord is only weeks away; most major differences were resolved during  
a round of talks in Tokyo a month ago (see BRIDGES Weekly, 7 October  
2010, http://ictsd.org/i/news/bridgesweekly/86164/).

In the TRIPS Council, China called for scrutiny about the consistency  
and compatibility between ACTA and the WTO legal framework,  
particularly about whether it risked creating additional trade- 
restricting obligations for WTO members. China also criticised the  
lack of transparency that characterised much of the ACTA negotiations.

The Indian delegate warned that ACTA risked “completely upset[ting]  
the balance of rights and obligations of the TRIPS Agreement,” and  
could “potentially undermine seriously decisions taken multilaterally  
such as the Doha Declaration on Public Health in the WTO and the  
Development Agenda in [the World Intellectual Property Organization].”  
He expressed concern that  depending on what ACTA parties finally  
agree to, they might end up subjecting non-parties to higher levels of  
intellectual property enforcement than those demanded under the TRIPS,  
distorting the legitimate movement of traded goods in transit, and  
weakening the institutional status of the WTO and WIPO.

Sources report that countries participating in the ACTA process  
rejected these allegations, arguing that the prospective agreement did  
not affect TRIPS and was necessary to tackle counterfeiting,  
particularly for dangerous counterfeit medicines and spare parts.

ACTA is also facing challenges from within key parties - namely, the  
United States. Inside US Trade, a Washington-based trade news  
publication, reported last week that US patent officials are unsure  
whether ACTA would contradict provisions in the new healthcare reform  
law, as well as in other US patent-related rules.

At issue are provisions in the US healthcare reform and in other US  
patent laws that limit damages and injunctions for patent infringement  
in certain cases, such as in the context of developing generic drugs  
or performing surgery. ACTA provisions contain no such cap on  

Members of European Parliament have also raised questions about how  
ACTA might interact with the domestic laws of EU member states.

ICTSD reporting; “U.S. Patent Office Unsure If ACTA Conflicts With  
Health Care Reform,” INSIDE US TRADE, 29 October 2010; “L’impact de  
l’ACTA en Europe inquiète une eurodéputée,” NUMERAMA, 30 October 2010.


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

More information about the Ip-health mailing list