The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has studied closely the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and concluded that the proposed Agreement safeguards the interests of legitimate businesses and the creation of sustainable jobs.
The chamber said the proposed agreement strengthens the fight against piracy, both in the real and virtual worlds. On the other hand, it does not introduce any new internet policing requirements beyond any existing provisions in EU and Member State legislation. It must therefore be stressed that this Agreement will not create any additional legislation at the EU level, rather, it will support the enforcement of legislation that already exists, said the chamber.
Concerns were also raised by the generic medicines industry that the original agreement could create confusion between counterfeits and the marketing of generic medicines, by extending sanctions aimed at copyright and piracy to the area of patent disputes. However, these concerns were also settled following negotiations on behalf of the industry. The amended agreement will not impact the legitimate generic medicines industry, the Chamber believes.
The Chamber actively participated in pan-European discussions on the matter through its affiliations in BusinessEurope and Eurochambres. The discussion at BusinessEurope resulted in agreement that working towards the elimination of piracy and counterfeit is a priority as these seriously harm enterprises, including SMEs. Besides, consumers may also be innocently harmed in the process. ACTA is being seen by business organisations across most of Europe as an important tool to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and enforce already existing practices in the field of customs cooperation, civil and criminal enforcement.
On the same wavelength, Eurochambres notes that ACTA can be an efficient tool to tackle Intellectual Property violations. It adds that the current international framework for IPR issues is insufficient because counterfeiting and piracy are constantly on the rise. Furthermore, it points out that discussions on enforcement in international fora are making insufficient progress.
A possible rejection of ACTA by the European Parliament and / or the refusal of a member state to sign the agreement would set a negative precedent in Europe in terms of IPR protection. This would represent a further setback in terms of Europe’s catch-up with other blocs in the area of research, technology, development and innovation. This means that its competitiveness and future growth prospects would be threatened further.
The Malta Chamber urges all the other social partners to support ACTA as this is a clear tool aimed at protecting legitimate businesses which have often invested millions of Euros and created thousands of jobs. Such a tool will also create the right environment for innovation and growth, two critical ingredients which are required for the well-being of our economy.