Proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: Background and Key Issues [March 1, 2012]   [open pdf - 361KB]

"The proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a new agreement for combating intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement. The ACTA negotiation concluded in October 2010, nearly three years after it began, and negotiating parties released a final text of the agreement in May 2011. Negotiated by the United States, Australia, Canada, the European Union and its 27 member states, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and Switzerland, the ACTA is intended to build on the IPR protection and enforcement obligations set forth in the 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). […] The ACTA, which was negotiated outside of the WTO, focuses primarily on trademark and copyright enforcement. It establishes a legal framework for IPR enforcement, which contains provisions on civil enforcement, border measures, criminal enforcement in cases of willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale, and enforcement in the digital environment for infringement of copyrights or related rights. It also provides for enhanced enforcement best practices and increased international cooperation. […] The U.S. government has made the enforcement of IPR a top priority in its trade policy, due to the importance of IPR to the U.S. economy and the potentially negative commercial, health and safety, and security consequences associated with counterfeiting and piracy. Policymakers face a challenge of finding an appropriate balance between protecting private rights and promoting broader economic and social welfare. The ACTA negotiation has spurred various policy debates. While governments involved in the negotiation and IPR-based industries have voiced strong support for the ACTA, other groups have expressed concern about the ACTA's potential impact on trade in legitimate goods, consumer privacy, the free flow of information, and public health."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41107
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