ACTA on hold until the G8 Summit

April 26, 2008

The so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement currently proposed by the USTR and the EC has been put on hold until at least July. According to this recent posting to the IP Watch Blog by William New, the latest Special 301 Report issued by the USTR earlier today mentions ACTA, but Assistant USTR for IP Stan McCoy confirmed that the agreement will not be completed by the upcoming G8 Summit in Japan. Since the report just came out 8 hours ago, I will try to look at it more closely in the next couple of days and see what I can find of interest.

In the meantime, I have several reactions to this news. The reality is that USTR Susan Schwab’s previous statements that she hoped ACTA would be completed by the end of 2008 seem as though they were mostly bluster to begin with. If it takes trade reps years to hammer out a bi-lateral agreement, there was never much reason to suspect that a “plurilateral” agreement would get turned around within less than 12 months. This is true even when most of the negotiating parties agree ahead of time. Negotiations between half a dozen wealthy, powerful countries are bound to be difficult, drawn-out affairs. That has been the case historically and even a secretive, shrink-wrapped proposal like ACTA is not likely to reverse the trend. Railroading a complex legal document through even the least democratic of political processes is tough work.

That said, this raises the stakes for ACTA opponents to get the attention of elected government officials in advance of this summer’s G8 summit. It’s always good to work with a deadline…

(h/t Robin Gross)

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