ACTA: the new institution

KEI has access to yet undisclosed sections of the negotiating ACTA text. The text is organized in 6 chapters. The longest is Chapter 2 on "legal framework for enforcement of intellectual property rights." The second longest is Chapter 5, on "Institutional Arrangements." In ten pages of text, the ACTA negotiators have set out a plan to create a new institution to administer, implement and modify ACTA. ACTA is seen as playing an important role that will rival in some ways the WIPO or WTO.

The Oversight Committee

The text proposes a governing body referred to as the [CAN: Oversight] [MEX: Steering] Committee. This committee will either include representation from all ACTA countries, like the WIPO General Assembly (GA) or the W.H.O. World Health Assembly (WHA), or it will be organized more like the W.H.O. Executive Board, with representatives from some countries.

The new ACTA Committee shall:

  • Supervise the implementation of ACTA
  • Consider further "elaboration" or "development" of the agreement
  • Address "disputes that may arise regarding the interpretation or application" of ACTA
  • Consider any other matter that may affect the operation of this agreement.

The Committee may:

  • Establish ad hoc or standing committees, working groups, experts groups, or task forces to carry out various activities.
  • Seek the advice of non-government persons or groups
  • make recommendations regarding the implementation of ACTA,
  • provide guidelines for implementing the agreement
  • identify and monitor techniques of piracy and counterfeiting
  • assist non-parties in assessing the benefits of accession,
  • share information on best practices
  • support international organizations
  • take other such actions as the parties may decide.

Amendments to ACTA

In Chapter 6 of ACTA, there is a proposal to allow the Oversight Committee to amend the provisions of ACTA.

Secretariat

The Committee is expected to met regularly, as well as in special sessions. The EU wants the meetings to be normally held in Geneva.

The ACTA Secretariat may be provided by the country serving as the Chair, or be a permanent independent secretariat, possibly existing within another international body (such as UPOV within WIPO, or UNITAID within WHO). Korea wants the secretariat to be provided by the WTO. Morocco wants the secretariat connected to WIPO.

The new ACTA institution will provide a mechanism for consultation, "regarding, such representations as may be made [US: to it] by another party with respect to any matter affecting the operation of this agreement.

Observers

The ACTA institution can extend invitations to governments who are candidates to join ACTA, to attend as observers. There may or may not be a process to extend invitations to international organizations active in the field of intellectual property to be come observers, and to

non governmental groups of intellectual property stakeholders.

[Note: USTR has told members of Congress it is their intention to marginalize the participation by consumer interest organizations in the new forum.]

Capacity Building and Technical Assistance.

In Chapter 3 of ACTA, there is text concerning the role of ACTA in "capacity building and technical assistance" to improve the enforcement of intellectual property rights, with a particular focus on developing countries. Parties providing technical assistance

may undertake the obligations under this Article in conjunction with relevant private sector or international organizations.

The technical assistance activity will include "integration of anti-counterfeiting and anti-hacking actions in national development strategies," and "shall be designed to help developing countries to harmonize their laws, to carry out their obligations and to exercise their rights as Members.