A Commentary on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
Elgar Commentaries series
Chapter 8: Criminal Enforcement
INTRODUCTION Section 4 of ACTA deals with the criminal enforcement of IPRs. The primary focus of the section (in Article 23) is the criminalization of wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale. Also criminalized is the use and importation of infringing labels and the bootlegging of cinematographic works. As with Article 61 of TRIPS, the penalties to be imposed have to be deterrent (Article 24), although unlike TRIPS, no guidance is provided on the matters to be considered in ensuring deterrence. The competent authorities of signatories are to have the authority to order the seizure of suspected goods, any related materials and implements used in the commission of the alleged offence, documentary evidence relevant to the alleged offence, and the assets derived from, or obtained directly or indirectly through, the alleged infringing activity (Article 25). The ability to pursue the proceeds of IP crime extends ACTA beyond TRIPS and is addressed in greater detail in Chapter 9. Finally, the enforcement authorities are able to act upon their own initiative to initiate investigations or legal actions with respect to the criminal offences in ACTA (Article 25). A good deal of criticism has been levelled at the criminalization of infringements of IPRs. For example, it has been pointed out that the criminalization of acts has ‘particular expressive and moral resonances that are unlikely to find easy equivalence in the law of intellectual property’.1 Particular criticism has been levelled at the criminalization of the downloading of copyright...
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