US trade rep launches campaign against counterfeiting

The U.S. Trade Representative announces a new antipiracy trade agreement effort.

The Office of US Trade Representative (USTR) will seek to negotiate a voluntary anticounterfeiting trade agreement with several major trading partners, the office said Tuesday.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will focus countries on anticounterfeiting efforts, including international cooperation, best practices for fighting piracy and developing strong legal frameworks for fighting piracy, USTR said in a news release.

"Global counterfeiting and piracy steal billions of dollars from workers, artists and entrepreneurs each year and jeopardize the health and safety of citizens across the world," Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement.

The action earned the USTR praise from several companies and groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America and Microsoft.

Developing international protections against counterfeiting and piracy is "key to protecting innovation and ensuring that the global economy continues to grow unfettered by [intellectual property] theft," Jack Krumholtz, Microsoft's managing director of federal government affairs, said in a statement.

US Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, also applauded the USTR announcement.

"Intellectual property thieves aren't just stealing American ideas, they're stealing dollars from US businesses and stealing jobs out from under US workers," Baucus said in a statement. "And the problem of intellectual property theft is rampant worldwide."

The trade agreement would complement the work of President George Bush's administration to encourage other countries through the World Trade Organization to enforce intellectual-property rights, the USTR said. But the ACTA would set a higher benchmark for intellectual-property enforcement that countries can join voluntarily, USTR said.

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