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European Union: Parliament Rejects Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

(July 13, 2012) On July 4, 2012, the European Parliament (EP) voted against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that had been negotiated between the European Union, its Member States, and other countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. There were 478 Members of the Parliament who voted against the Agreement, 39 who voted for it, and 165 who abstained. (European Parliament Rejects ACTA, European Parliament website (July 4,2012).)

The European Commission has submitted for consideration by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the question of ACTA's compatibility with EU law. ACTA advocates argued that the EP should have postponed its vote until the ECJ decides on this issue, while those who opposed ACTA argued against waiting for the ECJ's opinion, which could take up to two years. (Id.)

The EP endorsed the main objective of ACTA – to protect internationally the intellectual property rights of producers of music, films, pharmaceuticals, and fashion industry goods – but nevertheless expressed serious concerns about the likelihood of ACTA violating personal data protection and infringing on the privacy of consumers. (Goodbye ACTA: EU Parliament Rejects Anti-Piracy Treaty, EURACTIV (July 5, 2012).)

Martin Schulz, the EP's President, stated, “[t]he vote against ACTA was not one against the protection of intellectual property … .” He emphasized that the EP “staunchly supports the fight against piracy and counterfeiting, which harm European companies and pose a threat to consumer health and European jobs.” (Id.)