ACTA rapporteur will recommend EU Parliament to reject ACTA

Today the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, the European Parliament’s second biggest group, held a meeting on ACTA. At the end of the meeting David Martin, the Parliament’s rapporteur on ACTA said his job as rapporteur is to balance hopes and fears and to make his recommendation on voting for or against ACTA. He said that the Commission says ACTA doesn’t change European law. Then what benefits would we get? Only cooperation with 3rd countries. Continue Reading →

ACTA hearings this week

Marietje Schaake (ALDE) and Ivailo Kalfin (S&D) will host an ACTA stakeholder hearing in the European Parliament tomorrow, Wednesday 11 April, 13.00h – 15.00h. Live webstream on http://www.tinyurl.com/ACTAhearing

According to the announcement there will be speakers from Amnesty International, ACCESS, Oxfam, Article19, Health Action International, Reporters Without Borders, Consumer Rights groups, Knowledge Ecology Online, an SME organization, International Federation of Library Associations, Academics and Researchers, High level advisors and the Council of Europe. Update: it was a very interesting meeting, pointing out very serious issues with access to medicines and fundamental rights. The SME organisation was PIN-SME. Jan Malinowsky of the Council of Europe said: “policy goals should not be to protect outdated business models.” Continue Reading →

ITRE draft opinion proposes to reject ACTA

The European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) rapporteur on ACTA Amelia Andersdotter published the draft ITRE opinion. In the draft, the committee calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament withholds its consent to ACTA. On 24 April Members of the ITRE Committee will consider the draft opinion. The ITRE vote may be May 8th. ITRE Members may propose amendments. Continue Reading →

EU Patent Court will be located in Sealand, ministers say

Brussels, 1st April 2012 — The Council of European ministers agreed today on the location of the future European Patent Court, which is going to be located in Sealand, 10 kilometers off the English coast. The European patent community has finally achieved independence from elected parliaments. Georg Friedrich Reichmann, patent attorney in Munich, is happy about the agreement: “Sealand is the perfect location for the court. Since the patent system is a very special part of law, it should have its own court clearly detached from the law of the Member States. It is the final victory for the patent community to achieve independence – we have been trying to achieve that for more than 50 years.” Continue Reading →

1&1 Internet AG receives German Document Freedom Award

Karlsruhe, 28 March 2012 — 1&1, GMX and WEB.DE receive the German Document Freedom Award for the use of Open Standards. The prize is awarded by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V. (FFII). 1&1 is awarded for automatically adding XMPP for all customers of their mail services. The Document Freedom Award is awarded annually on the occasion of Document Freedom Day – the international day for Open Standards. Last years winners include tagesschau.de, Deutschland Radio, and the German Foreign Office. Continue Reading →

Mr Wieland sacrifices the Parliament’s broader interests

Rainer Wieland, Vice President of the European Parliament, has decided not to release the legal service’s opinion on ACTA (letter 14 March 2012, pdf). With this decision he confirms the decision taken earlier by the Secretary General, the FFII then received a blacked out version (picture above). According to the Vice President, the EU is now under certain obligations concerning due and successful ratification of ACTA. Publication of legal opinions would create a serious risk that the ratification procedure launched by the contracting partners of the EU will be jeopardised. On 19 December 2011 the Legal Affairs Committee coordinators had decided to release the opinion. Continue Reading →

Letter to EP Civil Liberties Committee

The FFII just sent a letter to the ACTA rapporteur for the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. The Committee will exchange views on ACTA in its meeting on Monday 26 March 2012, 15.00 — 18.30. See below or the pdf. ——–

Dear Mr Droutsas,

The European Commission announced it will refer the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice. While this step will provide further analysis, we find it important to note that the Court may choose to leave the political process much space. Continue Reading →

Where did the patients go?

The European Commission decided to ask the EU Court of Justice an opinion on ACTA. Commissioner Karel De Gucht stated: “We are planning to ask Europe’s highest court to assess whether ACTA is incompatible – in any way – with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and information or data protection and the right to property in case of intellectual property.” I note De Gucht does not mention public health issues. Oxfam (pdf), Public Citizen (pdf), Médecins Sans Frontières (pdf), and Flynn and Madhani voiced serious concerns over access to essential medicines – a matter of life and death. Furthermore, the Commission did not assess the effects ACTA may have on diffusion of green technology, needed to fight climate change. Continue Reading →

Médecins Sans Frontières deeply concerned

As a treatment provider for LDC, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned about the impact of ACTA as part of a larger enforcement agenda on the production and supply of affordable, legitimate medicines. They urge contracting States not to sign or ratify ACTA unless all concerns related to access to medicines are fully addressed. MSF relies primarily on generic medicines procured internationally….Many developing countries have no domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and governments and patients rely on imported generic medicines. Generic competition is the main driver of pharmaceutical price reductions … ACTA is… Continue Reading →

Global Europe – European Parliament vs. De Gucht

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is adopted under the so called “Global Europe” strategy of the European Commission. In its resolution of 22 May 2007 on Global Europe – external aspects of competitiveness the European Parliament demanded with regard to intellectual property rights:

60. Stresses that European IPR policy towards developing countries should not go beyond TRIPs Agreement obligations, but that it should instead encourage the use of TRIPs flexibilities;

That contradicts the presentation of ACTA as an “advanced standard” over TRIPS, as consistently argued by the Commission. Commissioner Karel de Gucht, for instance, told the European Parliament plenary (10 Sept 2010):

What we are aiming at is simply setting an international standard in IPR enforcement that is reasonable, balanced and effective, and thus goes beyond the current WTO rules on IPR: the TRIPS agreement. This is the ultimate objective, on which I am sure we all agree. Continue Reading →

Will ACTA compromise the European Court of Justice too?

(Updated) The Commission will ask the Court of Justice an opinion on ACTA. It would have been better if the Commission would have withdrawn ACTA. Earlier, the Court formulated an opinion on ACTA’s predecessor, the TRIPS agreement. The 1994 WTO TRIPS agreement spread out the enforcement of intellectual property rights over the world. Countries lost the ability to abolish their copyright and patent systems. For instance, the Netherlands abolished its suffocating patent system in 1869, and reintroduced patents in 1912. Continue Reading →

EuroParliament to exclude Free Software with patents and FRAND

Brussels, 17 Feb 2012 — The European Parliament Consumer Committee is on the verge to reform the standardisation process in Europe. The reform recognises patented interface specifications which discriminate Free Software implementations. Royalties over standards create an unavoidable barrier of entry in the market for small software companies and independent developers. Benjamin Henrion, president of the association complains: “The payment of royalties makes it impossible to distribute free software on the web. It creates an enormous barrier of entry for small companies and independent developers. Continue Reading →