Last week we submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between this country and our principal trading partners. With counterfeiting in the electrical equipment industry a growing problem worldwide, the idea of getting governments to all up their games with better enforcement and cooperation is pretty much a no-brainer.
Specifically, we would like the ACTA to include provisions that:
· Meet, and where necessary, exceed those in our existing free trade agreements.
· Are in the Stop Counterfeiting in the Manufactured Goods Act, which became law in March 2006.
· Feature meaningful and effective criminal sanctions that promote effective deterrence.
· Provide for establishing law enforcement and border protection coordination and information-sharing networks among each of the parties.
· Each party will designate a high-level executive branch officer to serve as principal law enforcement coordinator.
· Develop sentencing guidelines to be used by prosecutors and the judiciary.
· Prohibit procedures and practices that have been employed in some countries to make border civil and criminal enforcement more difficult than it should be (ie, by making it possible to sue individual customs officials for doing their jobs).
· Address the growing problem of the sale or offers-for-sale of counterfeits on the Internet.
Just whether an ACTA could ever be negotiated and meaningfully put into effect is another matter. Truly improving operations is difficult, and the subtle message underlying the initiative, which was first announced last fall, is that some of our best friends starting with our two biggest trading partners to the immediate North and South — arent do their anti-counterfeiting jobs so well. Moreover, I really wish they had chosen another name, for anything having trade agreement plus a distortable acronym is poison in the current U.S. political climate.