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Canada Signs Historic Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Combatting trade in counterfeit and pirated goods will help ensure future economic prosperity, says International Trade Minister Fast

(No. 280 – September 30, 2011 – 10:35 p.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international agreement aimed at combatting the spread of trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. In the June 2011 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to enforcing and defending intellectual property rights and helping balance the needs of creators and users to foster innovation- and knowledge-based prosperity.

“Counterfeit and pirated goods are an increasingly global problem that requires a globally coordinated solution,” said Minister Fast. “We all have an interest in combatting counterfeiting and piracy because these activities cost billions of dollars each year in revenue and trade losses, which translates into higher prices, lost income and lost jobs for people employed in a range of industries—from film and pharmaceuticals to electronics. Counterfeit goods also pose a real threat to the health and safety of people because the producers of goods such as drugs and auto parts evade the rigorous rules, standards and guidelines that are in place to protect consumers.”

ACTA will establish new international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights. It will cover three areas: improving international cooperation, establishing best practices for enforcement and providing a more effective legal framework to address the problem of counterfeiting and piracy. It will also give innovators, artists and entrepreneurs enhanced measures to ensure their creations and associated rights are protected. Alongside Canada, Australia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United States also signed the agreement, which was negotiated by 38 parties in total.

Following the signature of ACTA, the Government of Canada will develop and introduce the necessary legislation to implement the agreement. The government has already taken steps to enforce and defend intellectual property rights and help balance the needs of creators and users by reintroducing its Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11) in Parliament on September 29. The bill informed and guided Canada’s approach to the ACTA negotiations.

“The signing of this historic international agreement and our government’s reintroduction of copyright legislation demonstrates Canada’s commitment to combatting counterfeit and pirated goods, and protecting innovation- and knowledge-based prosperity, which are key to Canada’s future economic success,” said Minister Fast.

For more information and to read the final text of the agreement, please visit Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Backgrounder—Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

The initiative to establish a new international agreement to fight the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods was first proposed by Japan at the G-8 Summit in 2006. The United States lent its support to the initiative later that year, and both countries subsequently reached out to other key players, including the European Union, Switzerland and Canada, to develop a new international tool for combatting trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.

In 2007, Canada agreed to participate in negotiations toward an agreement. These began in June 2008 and successfully concluded in October 2010. Among the 38 negotiating parties were Australia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland, in addition to Canada, Japan, the European Union and the United States.

ACTA’s objective and structure

ACTA is a plurilateral agreement whose primary objective is to combat trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy by enhancing the international protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights internationally. ACTA provides for higher international enforcement standards for intellectual property rights by establishing a stronger legal framework, increasing international cooperation and enhancing enforcement measures.

ACTA’s legal framework includes sections on civil enforcement measures (such as allowing for civil-court proceedings and damages for rights holders), border enforcement measures (such as the finding and detention of imports and exports suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights), criminal enforcement measures (such as providing for criminal offences that target commercial-scale trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy) and digital enforcement measures.

The agreement has been negotiated independently of any existing international frameworks dedicated to intellectual property rights, such as those administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, ACTA builds on the minimum standards set forth by the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. ACTA was negotiated with a view to attracting accession by other countries. It will enter into force following its ratification by six parties to the agreement.