The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has moved to quell fears that the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is overly focused on copyright infringement.

Documents leaked late last year containing sections of the draft agreement led to speculation that the treaty would focus more on copyright reform, in light of increased digitization, than on trademarks and the fight against counterfeiting (see “Leaks drive fears over ACTA”).

In an interview with WTR Stan McCoy, assistant US trade representative for intellectual property and innovation at the USTR, acknowledged that this has been a “hot issue for some stakeholders”, but claimed it is a “misperception that this agreement will focus mostly or exclusively on copyright infringement in the digital environment”.

He stated: “The threat of physical goods bearing counterfeit trademarks is a real one and it is a priority for ACTA.  Americans do not want to brush their teeth with counterfeit toothpaste or drive a car with knockoff brakes. Trademark counterfeiting is an issue that we dealt with extensively in the enforcement sections of the IP chapters of US free trade agreements previously negotiated with ACTA partners Australia, Korea, Morocco and Singapore. Those agreements provide for, among other things, criminal penalties and procedures in cases of wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale; border measures in cases involving trademarks and copyrights; and civil remedies for all IP rights, with appropriate limitations that ensure consistency with US law.  We hope to achieve similar coverage in the ACTA.”

The full interview with McCoy will feature in the April/May edition of World Trademark Review.

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