The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international initiative in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. The negotiations started in 2008 and the Agreement was finally signed on October 1, 2011, in Tokyo, and will enter into force following the deposit of the sixth instrument. The initial signatories were: the United States, Australia, Canada, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Morocco and Singapore. However, the European Union, Mexico and Switzerland have already confirmed their continuing strong support for and preparations to sign the Agreement as soon as practicable.
The ACTA is said to be the highest-standard plurilateral agreement ever achieved concerning the enforcement of intellectual property rights, providing strong legal frameworks, innovative provisions to deepen international cooperation and promoting strong intellectual property rights enforcement practices. The agreement provides for:
(1) enhanced international cooperation;
(2) promotion of sound enforcement practices; and
(3) a legal framework for intellectual property rights enforcement in the areas of criminal enforcement, enforcement at the border, civil and administrative actions, and distribution of IP rights infringing material on the Internet. With respect to the legal framework, the ACTA establishes a strengthened standard that builds on the minimum standards of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreements (TRIPS).
The controversy. The secret nature of negotiations has excluded civil society groups, developing countries and the general public from the agreement's negotiation process and the ACTA has received some critics saying that the agreement adversely affects fundamental rights including freedom of expression and privacy. The agreement has also been known as "the Anti-China" agreement.
The full agreement can be downloaded here.