Since late 2008 New Zealand has been involved in discussions, led by the US and Japan and including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Switzerland, over the development of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
The premise of these discussions is that existing multilateral institutions regulating intellectual property (IP) rights, such as WIPO and the WTO TRIPs Agreement, have failed to provide adequate protection. The objective of ACTA is therefore to provide, on a select “club” level, a coordinated approach to the regulation and enforcement of IP rights. The discussions are not being held under the auspices of any existing organisation (though all participants are OECD members) but rather represent an international effort by “likeminded” countries to address the increase in global commercial trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works.
The discussions are scheduled to conclude during 2009. The proposed agreement is likely to focus on cooperation and enforcement practices, cross-border protection measures and civil and criminal enforcement standards. Participants have agreed not to disclose drafts of the text during the course of negotiations. Nevertheless, in a press release dated 15 May 2009, the Minister of Commerce, Simon Power, called for submissions on “a range of intellectual property proposals that may be considered during ongoing discussions around” ACTA. Generalised discussion papers can be found at the MED website.