Earlier this week, I posted an article on how countries negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement now acknowledge that a prime motivation behind their participation in the negotiations is the avoidance of WIPO. Interestingly, I recently obtained under the Access to Information Act the Canadian delegation instructions for the APEC Intellectual Property Experts Group (IPEG), meeting held in Taipei in June 2007. These instructions came just months before the formal announcement of ACTA negotiations and several years after the initial work on ACTA began at the G8. The instructions include:
Canada has not historically been an active participant in, or proponent of, APEC IPEG policy-oriented discussions, viewing IPEG primarily as a forum for information sharing and for promoting co-operation among APEC economies, and not as an appropriate forum for negotiating new legal norms. On the other hand, as one of the few fora dealing with cooperation matters of interest to IP offices, participation in IPEG provides an opportunity for CIPO to connect with other IP offices to advance its interests in its relationship with them, and to share best practices and explore the potential for leveraging bilateral or multilateral initiatives with Asia-Pacific member economies.
Other economies however, in particular dominant APEC member economies such as the US, Japan and Australia, envisage a broader role for IPEG, particularly in the area of enforcement, and thus continue to make proposals for initiatives designed to create new intellectual property norms. Canada has opposed efforts to turn IPEG into an active decision-making body, preferring to leave that role to WTO/TRIPS Council and WIPO as the appropriate bodies for setting norms that go beyond existing international obligations.
There are two key points here. First, this confirms the U.S. and Japanese approach to use every international fora they can find to promote an IP enforcement agenda. Second, the Canadian preference was to use international bodies like WIPO for new international IP law making. Notwithstanding that stated preference, Canada promptly dropped it and joined the ACTA negotiations several months later.