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Thursday, July 26, 2012

ACTA Lives: How the EU & Canada Are Using CETA as Backdoor Mechanism To Revive ACTA


Monday July 09, 2012

Last week, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject ACTA, striking a major blow to the hopes of supporters who envisioned a landmark agreement that would set a new standard for intellectual property rights enforcement. The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals such as ACTA on behalf of the European Union, has vowed to revive the badly damaged agreement. Its most high-profile move has been to ask the European Court of Justice to rule on ACTA's compatibility with fundamental European freedoms with the hope that a favourable ruling could allow the European Parliament to reconsider the issue.




While the court referral has attracted the lion share of attention, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star versionhomepage version) reports that there is an alternate secret strategy in which Canada plays a key role. According to recently leaked documents, the EU plans to use the Canada - EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which is nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions. [UPDATE 7/10: new post on why the concern over ACTA in CETA is warranted] [UPDATE 7/11: EC responds by saying ACTA ISP provisions removed from CETA. Appears likely most of remaining provisions remain]

The CETA IP chapter has already attracted attention due to EU pharmaceutical patent demands that could add billions to provincial health care costs, but the bigger story may be that the same chapter features a near word-for-word replica of ACTA. According to the leaked document, dated February 2012, Canada and the EU have already agreed to incorporate many of the ACTA enforcement provisions into CETA, including the rules on general obligations on enforcement, preserving evidence, damages, injunctions, and border measure rules. One of these provisions even specifically references ACTA. A comparison table of ACTA and the leaked CETA chapter is posted below.   has already attracted attention due to EU pharmaceutical patent demands that could add billions to provincial health care costs, but the bigger story may be that the same chapter features a near word-for-word replica of ACTA. According to the leaked document, dated February 2012, Canada and the EU have already agreed to incorporate many of the ACTA enforcement provisions into CETA, including the rules on general obligations on enforcement, preserving evidence, damages, injunctions, and border measure rules. One of these provisions even specifically references ACTA. A comparison table of ACTA and the leaked CETA chapter is posted below. 


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