The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a proposed plurilateral agreement for the purpose of establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. ACTA would establish a new international legal framework that countries can join on a voluntary basis and would create its own governing body outside existing international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the United Nations.
Negotiating countries have described it as a response "to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works."
The scope of ACTA is broad, including counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet.
Because it is in effect a treaty, ACTA would overcome many court precedents defining consumer rights as to "fair use" and would either change or remove limitations on the application of intellectual property laws.
After a series of draft text leaks in 2008, 2009 and 2010 the negotiating parties published the official version of the current draft on 20 April 2010. The idea to create a plurilateral agreement on counterfeiting was developed by Japan and the United States in 2006. Canada, the European Union and Switzerland joined the preliminary talks throughout 2006 and 2007.
Official negotiations began in June 2008, with Australia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Singapore joining the talks. It is planned for negotiations to finish in September 2010.