Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

ACTA participants are committed to improving transparency in the negotiating process, while still preserving negotiators’ ability to candidly discuss the various proposals under consideration. This fact sheet provides additional background on the ACTA negotiations and addresses some of the common concerns raised by stakeholders in a number of countries. For more background on the ACTA initiative and specific elements under discussion in the ACTA negotiations, please refer to the Summary of Elements Under Discussion.

What is the goal of ACTA?

  • Counterfeiting and piracy continue to negatively impact States and companies. Unfortunately, today they are also increasingly affecting the everyday life of citizens. Besides the often-copied luxury goods and blockbuster movies, counterfeiters and pirates are now taking liberties with common household articles – everything from home appliances to toothpaste. From the perspective of public and consumer health and safety, the appearance of counterfeit medicines and items such as counterfeit spare parts for cars, buses, and planes poses a threat that cannot be ignored.
  • The ACTA will establish an international framework for participating governments’ efforts to more effectively combat the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy, which undermines legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy.
  • Counterfeiting and piracy are transnational activities. The growth of this illegal trade spurred the ACTA participants to agree to develop an instrument that will strengthen international cooperation in our individual and common efforts to confront this shared threat.
  • The ACTA initiative aims to define effective procedures for enforcing existing intellectual property rights.
  • The ACTA will concentrate on three areas: a) cooperation among the ACTA parties to address the challenges of cross-border trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, b) establishing a set of enforcement best practices that are used by authorities, and c) a legal framework of enforcement measures.
  • The ACTA is intended to focus on commercially-oriented counterfeiting and piracy. There is evidence to suggest that organized criminal organisations are increasingly involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of these illegal goods.
  • Counterfeiting and piracy not only take place in the physical world, but also increasingly in the digital environment. ACTA cannot be regarded as an agreement that only focuses on the Internet. The ACTA aims to address the problem of counterfeiting and piracy as a whole, and seeks to cover each of its dimensions. Further details are provided for in the Summary of Elements Under Discussion.

What is not the goal of ACTA?

  • The ACTA is not about raising substantive standards of intellectual property protection (IPR) or specifying or dictating how countries should define infringement of those rights.
  • The ACTA does not focus on private, non-commercial activities of individuals, nor will it result in the monitoring of individuals or intrude in their private sphere.
    • Civil liberties would not be curtailed by the ACTA.
    • There is no proposal to oblige ACTA Parties to require their border authorities to search travelers’ baggage for IPR infringing goods or their personal electronic devices for IPR infringing downloads.
    • There is no proposal to oblige ACTA Parties to require internet service providers (ISPs) to terminate users' connections on the basis of accumulated allegations of online IPR infringement (the so-called “three strikes” rule).

What is the current status of the negotiations? What is the time frame and when will ACTA come into force?

  • The ACTA is being negotiated by a group of trading partners that together represent about half of all global trade. The ACTA will be open to accession by interested countries.
  • There is no fixed time frame and no concrete end-date that has been set for the ongoing negotiations. However, participants are aiming to conclude the negotiation by the end of 2010.
  • Once agreement has been reached, it will be up to each ACTA Party, in accordance with its internal procedures to decide whether and when to bring ACTA into force for that Party.

What is the objective of the proposed ACTA?

  • The proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) aims to establish new global standards for the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) to more effectively combat the increasingly prolific trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. The ACTA would focus on 3 areas: a) increasing international cooperation, b) establishing best practices for enforcement, and c) providing a more effective legal framework to combat counterfeiting and piracy.
  • The ACTA would build on and complement existing international legal frameworks pertaining to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Issues (TRIPs) under the World Trade Organization.

Which countries are involved?

  • Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States are involved in the discussions.

What is the status of the negotiations? What is the timetable and when will ACTA come into force?

  • A timeframe has not been determined nor have the parties considered a deadline to complete negotiations. It is expected that there will be a number of meetings as we deal with different aspects of the agreement.

Why has this process been kept from the public?

  • This process has not been kept from the public. On October 23, 2007, the partners involved in ACTA at that time publicly announced that they had initiated preliminary discussions on ACTA. Several countries involved in ACTA have conducted public consultations on the key proposed elements of the ACTA.

What impact will ACTA have on individual citizens?

  • The main objective of ACTA is to deal with commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy activities, which can involve criminal elements and pose a threat to public health and safety. It is not designed to be intrusive.

Will ACTA be discussed at this year’s G8 Summit in Japan?

  • The ACTA and the G-8 are distinct and independent processes.

Why is ACTA not discussed in existing international organizations dealing with intellectual property, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the World Trade Organization (WTO)?

  • The approach of a stand-alone agreement is considered appropriate to pursue this initiative at this stage. The partners involved in ACTA continue to value the important work of multilateral organizations, such as WIPO, WTO, APEC, OECD and others.

Why are countries recognized as the major sources of counterfeiting and piracy not involved?

  • At this point, the objective is to have a group of like-minded countries come together to work on ways to provide better protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Counterfeiting and piracy is a growing global issue that has become a concern for all, in particular the adverse effects that such activities can have on a nation’s economy, as well as on the public health and safety of the population. Organized criminal groups have also been involved in counterfeiting and piracy.