Obama Reiterates Support For Finishing ACTA

President Obama Thursday reiterated his administration’s commitment to enacting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, aimed at curbing global piracy, despite a vote by the European Parliament this week calling for greater transparency in the deal’s negotiations.

During remarks at the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference, the president discussed the need to “aggressively protect” U.S. intellectual property.

“There’s nothing wrong with other people using our technologies, we welcome it — we just want to make sure that it’s licensed, and that American businesses are getting paid appropriately,” Obama said. “That’s why [the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative] is using the full arsenal of tools available to crack down on practices that blatantly harm our businesses, and that includes negotiating proper protections and enforcing our existing agreements, and moving forward on new agreements, including the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.”

Mark Esper, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Center, applauded the president for highlighting the importance of IP protection “as well as singling out the need for a strong Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement that will raise the bar on enforcement standards and improve cooperation between nearly forty countries.”

But the ACTA negotiations have been criticized by public interest groups and some lawmakers for lacking transparency. They have pointed in particular to the fact that a public draft of the agreement has not been released.

By an overwhelming 663-13 vote, the European Parliament passed a resolution Wednesday calling for the European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory arm, to release a public draft of the agreement. Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn said in a statement the parliament’s “vote is yet another reminder that ACTA, both in process and in substance, is fatally flawed.” On the substance, she noted that some of the leaked documents related to ACTA have shown it appears “to be treading heavily on the rights of Internet users here and abroad.”

USTR has said while it supports a transparent process, it must keep some details of the proposed agreement private in order to allow the negotiating parties to engage in a frank exchange of views.

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