Monday, October 06, 2008

Senators Warn Bush Administration On ACTA

In what might be wrongly interpreted as a break from their usual support for expansion of intellectual property laws, Intellectual Property Watch reports two US Senators' concerns about ACTA, the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Alliance.

"The leaders of the powerful United States Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday warned US trade negotiators to rein in the scope of negotiations on an international treaty against counterfeiting, and to make the process more transparent...

At issue is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the United States has been trying to push through by year’s end.

“We are concerned … that the ACTA under consideration will prescribe rules for protection so specifically that it could impede Congress’s ability to make constructive policy changes in the future,” Senators Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont) and Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania) said in a 2 October letter to US Trade Representative Susan Schwab."

The letter is available online.

Interestingly the senators are not concerned that ACTA will expand the reach of IP law too much. Rather they worry that the trade agreement might limit the ability of the US to expand IP law. That's a novel interpretation of what we know about ACTA but fits with generic concerns in the US Senate whenever the US negotiates international treaties and trade agreements. On an international economic scale it is not a bad model to assume that the US will act like an island with a protectionist agenda.

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