Following the demise of the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) the EU and the US are having another go at it. Only now it is within the wrapper of an EU-US Trade Agreement. Intellectual property rights (IPR) remain at the heart of it, although this time it seems they will take a more softly-softly approach.
Negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU and the US were kicked off last week, during a visit to Washinton D.C by the EU Trade Commissioner, Karel de Gucht, who met with the head of the United States Trade Representative, Ron Kirk.
Mr De Gucht lost face last July, after the European Parliament rejected the treaty that he had negotiated. Mr Kirk had an easier ride from the US Congress. He was appointed by President Obama, and was responsible for the USTR ACTA negotiations in the final year.
It’s not really a surprise that intellectual property rights and copyright would be part of the new negotiations. What is interesting is the positioning of IPR by the two negotiators.
The EU-US trade negotiations will include discussion of copyright enforcement and how the two might co-operate on it.
In a joint statement, they indicate that they will not seek to do an ACTA-style universal review of IPR and copyright law. Instead, they say they will ‘identify a number of specific issues where divergences will be addressed.’
The $64 million dollar question is: what might divergences be?
My forthcoming book, A Copyright Masquerade, analyses the trans-atlantic difficulties during the ACTA negotiations and may shed some light on those areas of divergence. More info to come soon.
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