Reconciling IP regimes difficult, says ACTA negotiator

National differences a hurdle for international anti-counterfeiting treaty

There will be problems accommodating national differences in intellectual property legislation to develop an international anti-counterfeiting treaty, says George Wardle, the Ministry of Economic Development delegate to the negotiations of a proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

“Generally, we’re finding ourselves in a similar position to other common-law countries like Australia and Canada, but we all have slightly different regimes and that’s a big question.”

The most recent ACTA meeting, held late last month in Washington, DC, concentrated on civil remedies such as immediate injunction to stop a course of behaviour where an intellectual-property owner believes irreparable harm may be done to their business before the alleged infringement comes to court.

Many of the matters under discussion are covered in their essentials by the TRIPS (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement, signed in 1993.

“TRIPS is the foundation,” says Wardle, but ACTA seeks to add more detail and stronger enforcement against IP breaches in trade.

The ACTA negotiations are “about trying to see how we can possibly accommodate different regimes and come up with something that’s stronger than TRIPS”, Wardle says.

Meanwhile, submissions on ACTA from the NZ public are being digested but ministers have to be briefed on their content before the summary can be published. This is likely to happen “in a week or two”, Wardle says.

Correction: Computerworld’s previous story (August 4) erroneously said the submissions were requested by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The request was made by the Ministry for Economic Development. When Judith Tizard issued the request, on May 28, she was speaking in her role as Associate Commerce Minister, not from her Culture and Heritage portfolio.

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