The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) aims to set a higher benchmark for intellectual property rights enforcement.

ACTA isn't a free trade agreement—it's a narrower agreement aimed at combatting the growing international trade in counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works. Countries can adopt ACTA voluntarily. 

ACTA has been signed by New Zealand and 10 other WTO member countries, but is not yet in force. 

How will ACTA work?

The agreement focuses on three areas:

  • increasing international cooperation, particularly between enforcement agencies
  • establishing best practices for enforcement
  • providing a more effective legal framework to combat counterfeiting and piracy.

ACTA doesn’t change the current standards – it's focused on doing a better job of enforcing existing rights and obligations. The agreement builds on and complements other international legal frameworks for the protection and enforcement of IPRs, including the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) and those developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

What's the status of ACTA?

New Zealand signed ACTA on 1 October 2011. The United States, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Mexico, Singapore and Switzerland have also signed.

The agreement will come into force once it has been ratified in the parliaments of six of the signatories. Japan is the only country to ratify the agreement so far. The NZ Government's consideration of whether to ratify ACTA remains on hold. A number of amendments to New Zealand's Copyright Act 1994 and Trade Marks Act 2002 would be required before the New Zealand Government could ratify this agreement.

Find out more about ACTA (external link)