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In October 2007, the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada, and a handful of other countries simultaneously announced ambitious plans to negotiate a new intellectual property treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The negotiating process has operated largely below the public radar screen since its inception, yet each round of talks brings closer an agreement that could have a dramatic effect on laws worldwide. The ACTA Watch site pulls together documents, analysis, videos, and other materials related to the draft agreement. Suggestions for additional content welcome. Please email tips@actawatch.org.

Mon. Apr. 06/09

The Canadian government provided its first major briefing on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement this morning.  There were attendees from all sides of the issue as well as an (unlisted) representative from the U.S. Embassy.  The meeting started with a bang as Don Stephenson, an Assistant Deputy Minister at DFAIT, noted the two sources of ACTA.  One was obviously counterfeiting.  The other was the stalemate at the World Intellectual Property Organization.  With the emergence of the Development Agenda, WIPO now finds itself torn between different views of intellectual property.  Canadian officials were clear that frustration with WIPO in developing further international IP standards that has led to an attempt to establish a "plurilateral" treaty rather than the multilateral efforts at WIPO.

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Sat. Mar. 21/09

Last week I blogged about internal Canadian documents that indicate support for greater ACTA transparency.  Now the pressure is building elsewhere, as the U.S. Trade Representative Office has promised to conduct a review of policies and Swedish politicians are voicing their support for greater openness.

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Sun. Mar. 15/09

While the U.S. claims that ACTA documents are a matter of national security and the European Parliament demands greater transparency, it would appear that the Canadian delegation would favour an early release of the draft treaty.  According to a confidential November 2008 memorandum that was prepared for Stockwell Day, the Minister of International Trade obtained under the Access to Information Act:

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Fri. Mar. 13/09

The U.S. government has denied a freedom of information act request for several Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement documents, invoking a clause that says that the documents are protected as national security secrets. The provision applies in cases where there could be "damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage." The content of the documents has been reported here and here.

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Fri. Feb. 20/09

Inside U.S. Trade reports (sub required) that the next round of ACTA negotiations, which had been scheduled for next month in Morocco, has been delayed at the request of U.S. officials.  While this does not signal a change in perspective on ACTA, the U.S. did want to provide incoming USTR officials time to review ACTA before continuing with the negotiations.  No new meeting has been established.

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Tue. Feb. 03/09

Negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement resume next month in Morocco, but as the discussions drag on, details on the proposed treaty are beginning to emerge.  Obtaining information through official channels such as Freedom of Information requests has been very difficult; however, there is little doubt that lobby groups have been privy to inside information and so reliable sources have begun to sketch a fairly detailed outline of the proposed treaty.

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Thu. Jan. 29/09

While the Canadian government has dutifully followed the U.S. line on ACTA with bland releases following each of the four 2008 negotiation sessions, newly obtained documents under the Access to Information Act reveal that the Canadian delegation may be speaking out on some of the public concerns that have been raised around transparency and the exclusion of many countries from the negotiation process [download here].  The documents include several noteworthy revelations:

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Fri. Dec. 19/08

The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a release that provides an update on the most recent round of ACTA negotiations (the release will be mirrored by other countries).  It reports that governments met last week in Paris to continue ACTA negotiations.  In addition to the three issues addressed at earlier meetings (international cooperation, enforcement practices and institutional issues, as well as criminal enforcement), Internet issues were now added to the mix.

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Fri. Nov. 14/08

The Canadian government has re-launched its consultation on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.  The last consultation was conducted in the spring.  While the government did not release the results of that consultation, I recently reported on the findings based on documents obtained under the Access to Information Act.

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Mon. Aug. 11/08

IP Justice has posted a letter from a group of leading technology, Internet, and telecommunications companies in the U.S. focused on concerns related to ACTA.

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