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The inventor protected anywhere and everywhere - an infringement of human rights?

8 October 2010

“The inventor protected anywhere and everywhere in the same way. What a beautiful dream!” – so said a lawyer of the late 19th Century.

Notwithstanding countless international treaties on trade since that time, and the recognition of IP rights across jurisdictions and at both a national and international level, we are still far from international harmonisation of law and procedure. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), published in April this year, is the latest attempt. ACTA is a proposed international agreement whose purpose would be to establish international standards on intellectual property protection. ACTA is another attempt by governments to negotiate a common international standard on how countries should act against large scale infringements of IP rights.

ACTA is being negotiated by 10 developed countries and the European Union. It is moving slowly to a consensus. As it does, however, criticism is mounting that the final agreement will amount to an infringement of human rights, thereby restricting the right of an individual to buy something which he knows is not an original. As a senior judge recently stated, the consumer is not stupid. So, given that ACTA is negotiated by governments, far removed from ordinary people, has the individual lost out?

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