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IP Rights in Digital Environment Key Element of Proposed Treaty

Last week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released a summary of the key elements of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which aims to establish international standards for enforcing IP rights to more effectively combat counterfeiting and piracy.

One of the potential chapters of the treaty covers "Intellectual property rights enforcement in the digital environment." In this area, parties negotiating the agreement say they intend to clarify the "role and responsibilities of internet service providers in deterring copyright and related rights piracy over the Internet." According to a recent CNET article, there have been discussions to potentially hold ISPs liable for infringing material, which is a significant shift from what is stated in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Per the DMCA's "safe harbor" provisions, ISPs are currently protected from liability if they expeditiously respond to takedown notices.

The ACTA may also include other provisions that would help brand owners protect their IP rights in the following key areas:

  • Civil Enforcement
  • Border Measures
  • Criminal Enforcement

Finally, the proposed ACTA calls for more international cooperation to effectively address the global counterfeiting and piracy problem. Given the borderless nature of the Internet, these provisions could be instrumental to brand owners who are pursuing offenders across national jurisdictions.

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