The European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement today, 478-39. The rejection issued a massive blow to the prospects of the agreement itself, as well as to the larger international intellectual property agenda of the United States, now playing out in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiation in San Diego, California this week.

Michael Carroll, Director of American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, explained:

“ACTA failed because civil society advocates and academic researchers succeeded in publicizing the multiple problems with a one-sided approach to changing international intellectual property law through a non-participatory, secret process that reflects only the interests of particular industries. While the Internet freedom issues generated the most significant public opposition in Europe, ACTA suffered from other substantial deficiencies as well.”

PIJIP’s international intellectual property and the public interest project has been promoting public information on ACTA and other trade agreements seeking to alter international intellectual property policy. Supported by funders including the IDRC and Open Society Foundation, PIJIP organized an international expert meeting in June 2010 to document ACTA’s substantive shortcomings.  This meeting led to the Urgent ACTA Communique, issued on June 23, 2010, PIJIP also promoted and published research on the legal problems and likely effects of ACTA, including papers in a special issue of the American University Journal of International Law and PIJIP Working Paper series, referred to extensively in the reports and committees of the European Parliament.

Sean Flynn, Associate Director of PIJIP, and coordinator of PIJIP’s international intellectual property and the public interest project explained:

“The failure of ACTA in Europe should be the beginning of a renewed call for an evidence-based positive agenda in international intellectual property. We should be promoting, not killing, freedom on the internet and increased access to affordable medicines for all people in all countries. ACTA failed because a public airing proved that the emperor had no clothes — no real benefits, only costs, could be shown for the impact of the agreement on the citizens of one the agreement’s strongest proponents.

“This, in turn, will effect the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiation. ACTA will now be widely perceived as a model for what cannot be achieved at the international level among a group of predominantly wealthy countries with strong ‘IP maximalist’ reputations. The USTR may not take this lesson immediately. The failure of ACTA is likely to produce increased will by the USTR to achieve a ‘victory’ in TPP so that it can prove that ACTA’s IP maximalist agenda did not die with it. But ACTA’s demise will also strengthen the resolve of the opponents of the U.S. position in the negotiation. If a TPP agreement is reached, which is increasingly in doubt on the intellectual property chapter, it will have to be ACTA minus — not ACTA plus.”