[Ip-health] Reuters: NGO sees renewed push in counterfeiting talks in Tokyo

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Sep 23 09:50:52 PDT 2010


NGO sees renewed push in counterfeiting talks in Tokyo

Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:05pm EDT
By Jonathan Lynn

GENEVA (Reuters) - Nearly 40 countries are launching a renewed push  
for an anti-counterfeiting accord in Tokyo this week, a non- 
governmental organization monitoring the secretive talks said on  
Thursday. Civil society critics of the negotiations say the new deal  
would provide a platform for rich nations to impose on developing  
countries tough intellectual property rules that go well beyond  
existing global agreements.

They say that could disrupt trade in legitimate generic drugs going to  
poor countries by allowing searches and seizures of the products when  
in transit in participating countries, something that has already  
occurred in the European Union. James Love, president of Knowledge  
Ecology International, a non-governmental organization (NGO)  
monitoring intellectual property questions, said the Tokyo talks could  
try to narrow the scope of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement  

"There's been a lot of criticism that under the title of an anti- 
counterfeiting agreement they've tried to throw a lot of other things  
into the agreement that have nothing to do with counterfeits or  
piracy," he told reporters.

This would pit the European Union, which wants ACTA to cover a broad  
range of intellectual property issues, against the United States,  
where in recent months businesses have grown worried that ACTA could  
extend criminal sanctions into questions of patent infringement now  
settled by civil litigation.

The talks are of interest not only to makers of brand-name and generic  
drugs, but also to media companies like Time Warner and Hollywood film  
producers, makers of luxury goods, and Internet service providers and  
other Web firms that could come under pressure to police content more  


Love said the ACTA talks were so secretive that the governments  
involved were not even revealing the list of officials participating  
or the agendas of meetings. The latest round in Tokyo will run until  
the end of the month.

Only one draft text has been published, on the orders of the European  
Parliament, and other texts have been leaked.

"It allows the negotiators to lie about what's in the text -- which  
has often been the case," Love told reporters.

European negotiators had repeatedly argued ACTA would not affect  
access to drugs because it would not cover patents, but the texts  
suggested it could extend to patents, he said.

European officials say ACTA aims to tackle a flood of counterfeit  
drugs posing a health threat as well as other pirated goods that  
undermine innovation, while generic drugs are a matter of patent  

India has launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization over EU  
seizures of generics en route to Brazil.

The August 25 draft of the ACTA text obtained by the NGO shows the EU  
wants it to cover intellectual property, which could include patents,  
while the United States and some other countries talk only of  
trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy, though retaining the  
option to extend it to other areas.

David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,  
confirmed that ACTA talks were taking place but declined to give  
details of the U.S. position.

"The United States would very much like to see ACTA concluded and  
supply a viable means for improved enforcement of intellectual  
property rights," he told a news conference.

The EU is also keen for ACTA to provide protection to geographical  
indicators -- names of foods and drinks based on a place of origin  
such as Champagne or Parma -- an approach resisted by the United  
States and other New World producers.

The talks involve the United States, the European Union and its 27  
member states, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South  
Korea and Switzerland, and two developing countries -- Morocco and  

(Editing by Tim Pearce)


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

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

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