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Battle Lines Drawn on ACTA: EU Commissioner Says Scope is "Red Line" for Treaty

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Wednesday July 14, 2010
There were two ACTA events yesterday that provided the U.S. and European perspectives on latest round and future developments.  EC Commissioner Karel de Gucht appeared before a European Parliament committee and provided some details on the most recent round along some pointed criticism of the U.S. position on some key issues. Some of the key points raised during de Gucht's appearance:
  • The EU language on Internet may serve as compromise on that chapter
  • On border issues, consensus may only reachable on basis of the "lowest common denominator"
  • The U.S. position on ACTA transparency is "counter-productive"
  • de Gucht believes India and Brazil are using ACTA to score political points on the generic medicines issue
  • Inclusion of designs and geographic indications in ACTA is a "red line" issue.  If they are not included, the EU must question the benefit of the agreement.  De Gucht argues the U.S. is using trademarks for same purpose as geographic indications and it is "hypocrisy" to exclude from the agreement.  He emphasized the EU "cannot swallow this" and that this will be a major point of discussion at the next round of talks.
  • Next round of talks will be held in July in Washington.  At least two more rounds are required rest of the year.  There is a fundamental split between negotiating parties on scope.  He does not expect a breakthrough in the Washington round.

Meanwhile in Washington, USTR's Stan McCoy was part of a panel on ACTA.  McCoy noted that there was some progress on ACTA in Lucerne, but not as much the U.S. had hoped.  He said that the U.S. delegation was prepared to stay for further discussions but that others were not.  As for the issue of transparency, McCoy said the delegations needed "to strike the balance" in working on ACTA and dealing with stakeholders.  He suggested that the April text reflected the issues that are still "out there" on ACTA. 

McCoy was asked why ACTA is even needed if the participating countries have similar rules already and ACTA may include some flexibility for compliance.  His response: the U.S. can't do it alone and need co-operation from other governments.  He summed up by saying that ACTA is needed for international leadership, cooperation, and a stronger baseline of enforcement.

The Washington event video is posted below.  The EU event video can be accessed for the next six days here.


Comments (6)add comment

Jim R said:

...
Anyone know what is meant by "designs and geographic indications"?
July 14, 2010

Anarchist Philanthropist said:

...
It's all about money, it's everyone wanting a bigger chunk of the pie. This is disgusting. So sick of this, everyone of them is talking out their rear ends.
July 14, 2010

Crockett said:

It's human nature
Everyone wants more, and the more they have .. the more they want. This strategy works for a while until you piss-off enough people and then the tide turns against you.

For instance the legislators who pushed through the French 'Three-Strikes' rule are now starting to distance themselves from it (to the frustration of the media moguls). It seems the law has become hugely unpopular and it is affecting their polling numbers .. go figure.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/07/first-anniversary-bfrench-legislators-have-second-thoughts-on-three-strikes-lawrings-second-thoughts-on-french-3-strikes.ars

As I predicted, these draconian laws being pushed around the world are just the death tremors of the big media distribution empires. There is too much momentum of change which will continue to grow as technology advances and the electorate of tech savvy citizens moves more into the mainstream. Unfortunately, this will take time and we will suffer in the interim.
July 14, 2010

Matt said:

hmm
I wouldn't put it above my own us government to use violent force and/or threats (aka terrorism) to try to force negotiation in their favor in washington. Politicians has been selectively mull to their constituents on issues regarding ACTA. The only time I ever got a reply was when I tried to FOIA ACTA. None from actual politicians. Emails requesting a reply to senators and house reps has gotten no reply, which I keep track of - plenty of these are more than 6 months old. So much for even honesty from our politicians.

I'm actually fearful that we're having a round of negotiations anywhere in the US. I don't blame Obama, but I do blame the USTR.
July 14, 2010

AlB said:

Geographic Indications
I believe that geographic indications is related to region locking on DVDs. Business want certain products restricted to certain regions and want to use ACTA to close down the gray markets and overturn Australia's decision to make region restricted DVD players illegal.
July 15, 2010

Carl said:

GIs
Geographic Indications are basically brand names related to places or regions - Bordeaux, Champagne, Roquefort, etc. Obviously a big deal for the EU.
July 15, 2010

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