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Global Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement Still Weeks Away
email this pageprint this pageemail usJuliane von Reppert-Bismarck - Reuters
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October 02, 2010

Negotiators come closer than expected in adopting and anti-counterfeit accord, but key differences between the U.S. and the EU remain.

Brussels - Negotiators for an international anti-counterfeit accord failed to reach agreement after more than a week of talks on Saturday, but European Union officials said a final deal was just weeks away.

Differences between the EU and United States over how strict new intellectual property rules should be mean the negotiators trying to complete the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement will have to return to their capitals with only a draft accord.

"We've come a long way but we must still close the remaining gaps without which there will be no agreement," said a senior EU official close to the negotiations.

The talks have pitted the United States against the EU since they began, with the EU demanding broad protection for its traditional food names, such as Parmesan cheese, as well as for its fashion and car designs.

The United States and some other countries appealed for a narrower agreement that would protect mainly copyright and trademarks, whose violation has ravaged profits in the U.S. entertainment industry.

Differences now remain over the EU's demands for protection of food place names and a U.S. demand that individuals breaching patent law should not be prosecuted at home under either criminal or civil litigation, the EU official said.

But negotiators had come closer to a deal than they had expected, said the official, who declined to be named.

"EU Trade Commissioner (Karel) De Gucht welcomes the significant progress made in Tokyo on the ACTA agreement and believes the remaining elements can now be worked upon over the coming weeks," said EU spokesman John Clancy.

The EU has agreed that patent protection should not apply to goods in transit between countries.

This may go some way to reassuring pact critics, who say it could disrupt trade in legitimate generic drugs going to poor nations by allowing seizures of the products when in transit in participating countries, something that has occurred in the EU.

The talks involve the United States, the European Union and its 27 member states, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland, and two developing countries -- Morocco and Mexico.

The countries said last month they planned to finish work in September and publish the final text of the agreement before deciding to finally sign it.

Participants in the talks have said they hope large trading nations such as China, India and Brazil will eventually join the pact.

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