ACTA is causing palpitations higher up the elite food chain. From grass roots internet activists, through Civil Society, through academics, parliamentarians and now international trade delegations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
India, Egypt, Venezuela, and Ecuador were annoyed that ACTA was a main point in the TRIPs agenda, rather than a side [“other”] issue – but this was merely procedural nit-picking. Their speeches regarding various elements of ACTA were far, far more interesting and biting.
Once the nit-picking had finished, those on TRIPs that had signed up to ACTA, such as the US proceeded, unsurprisingly, to vigorously defend the agreement [KEI‘s rejoinder to that US position is here]. They maintained the position that ACTA would not erode Fundamental Rights (freedom of expression, etc) and said another concern, access to generic medicines, would not be impeded by ACTA.
On generics, India, who is not and never has been a Party to ACTA, went ballistic on ACTA, saying that ACTA undermines the flexibility negotiated into the TRIPs agreement. Proponents of ACTA agree that ACTA is a TRIPs Plus agreement – i.e. it goes further than the TRIPs agreement in terms of scope and enforcement practices and that this is what they want in future IP and copyright scope and enforcement.
Indiais a developing country and is one of many developing countries that make, export and import generic pharmaceutical products. Generic products are re-makes of formerly patented products whose patents have expired, which means the original patented product is very often legally created more cheaply.
Brazil has had generic products it makes seized in European ports in recent years, so has India and others. Their fear and the fear of many others (Bangladesh, etc.) is that generics (which are legal) will face more and more scrutiny at border and ports of ACTA Parties. This increased monitoring and surveillance at ACTA Parties’ borders and ports could lead to a rise in generics being held by mistake – something worrying for generic medicines because they have a very limited shelf life and could be out of date by the time any dispute about the consignment is sorted out. The much greater fear is, that while legal generics are held up, people needing them will come to harm as a direct result of the hold up, and may even die as a direct result of a hold-up and, indirectly, because of ACTA’s increased border and port surveillance measures.
Brazil’s main concern was with the one-size fit all approach to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)- implying that enforcement procedures should be harmonised.Brazil’s message was simple: one-size does not fit all!
Much of the above is talking about the generic medicines part of ACTA. For more information I highly recommend looking at this site which does an excellent job of in-depth analysis and reporting than I could ever hope to achieve: http://keionline.org/
I’ll add to this post later with news from TRIPs regarding the Internet aspects of ACTA …