BERN, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland added its doubts to Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) a day after the German parliament was told Germany is advising developing countries not to back it. The Swiss Federal Council noted 9 May that it will not sign the agreement.
Acta, a plurilateral agreement, “has been negotiated as a “TRIPS-plus” (going beyond the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) standard for the enforcement of IP rights between the European Union member states, the United States and nine additional countries since 2007,” reports IP Watch, but in recent months it has come up against growing opposition from several corners. IP Watch, an industry newsletter, raised the question 15 April if the Group of 8 was reacting to Acta’s impending death: “it may have signalled a shift to a narrower approach on intellectual property rights” at a meeting a week earlier.
The Federal Council Wednesday says that since negotiations were concluded “criticism of Acta has continued to grow in a number of countries. The Federal Council is taking these fears seriously because they concern fundamental liberties and important legal provisions.”
Tuesday, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development told its parliament that it is advising developing countries not to sign the agreement. Some 60,000 German citizens have signed a petition against ratification, according to IP Watch in a separate article.
Medecin Sans Frontiers said in a press release, also Tuesday, that “NGOs, such as MSF, who provide treatment and funders who support health programs are at risk of injunctions, provisional measures, and even criminal penalties, including imprisonment and severe economic losses.”
The agreement has come up against stiff opposition in some European Union states and five of them have also put off signing it. The Swiss government says it will examine the matter again “when it has new information on which to base a decision. These could be proceedings in the five member states of the EU that have postponed signing Acta or the conclusions reached after a reviewed of its legality within the framework of the EU Court of Justice, ordered by the European Commission, is completed. Another factor could be legal action against ratification taken within the EU.
The Guardian Tuesday noted that “The Acta treaty that has been the subject of street protests around Europe is unlikely to be ratified by the European Union, according to Neelie Kroes, the powerful European commissioner for telecoms and technology.”