Brussels, 11 March 2011 — The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) supports asking the European Court of Justice an opinion on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). On Monday 21 March 2011 the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee may vote on a proposal for such a request. Unbalanced enforcement measures may heighten market entrance risks for innovators, according to the FFII. Startup companies are often confronted with patent minefields. Even a mere allegation of infringement may easily lead to market exclusion. Startup companies often do not have enough resources to litigate.
Member of the European Parliament Jan Albrecht (Greens/EFA) formally requests the Legal Affairs Committee coordinators to put a decision to obtain the opinion of the ECJ on ACTA on the agenda of the next Committee meeting.
A group of prominent European academics published an opinion on ACTA. They conclude: “Contrary to the European Commission’s repeated statements and the European Parliament’s resolution of 24 November 2010, certain ACTA provisions are not entirely compatible with EU law and will directly or indirectly require additional action on the EU level.” They invite “the European institutions, in particular the European Parliament, and the national legislators and governments, to carefully consider the above mentioned points and, as long as significant deviations from the EU acquis or serious concerns on fundamental rights, data protection, and a fair balance of interests are not properly addressed, to withhold consent.”
FFII analyst Ante Wessels comments: “For the sake of startup companies, enforcement measures beyond current EU legislation should be avoided. These ‘acquis plus’ measures did not receive democratic scrutiny. It is questionable whether such measures are compatible with the Treaties.”
Behind closed doors, the European Union, United States, Japan and other trade partners negotiated the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA will contain new international norms for the enforcement of copyrights, trade mark rights, patents and other exclusive rights.
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The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.