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Swedes out in force to protest anti-piracy law

Over 10,000 Swedes had pledged to take part in demonstrations in Stockholm and other cities on Saturday to protest against the ACTA anti-piracy legislation which is set to go before the Riksdag later this year.

Swedes out in force to protest anti-piracy law

The demonstration, held at midday on Sergels Torg in the centre of Stockholm, featured speeches from MEPs Christian Engström of the Pirate Party, Carl Schlyter of the Green Party and Mikael Gustavsson of the Left Party.

Over eleven thousand people had signed up to attend the Stockholm demonstration on Facebook by 10am on Saturday.

Christian Engström told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily that with indications that Poland’s parliament is set to reject the controversial international anti-piracy legislation, the pirate movement had wind in its sails.

“1.4 million signatures have been collected through an online petition and there have been riots in Poland. There now seems to be a commitment among citizens so I feel very hopeful,” he told DN.

The countrywide protests in Sweden are timed to coincide with the ratification process of the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), legislation which has been increasingly controversial since its inception in 2007.

ACTA is an international agreement framing measures to establish uniform regulations to tackle breach of copyright, patents and trademarks. The agreement is backed by the US, together with EU member states.

The agreement is however not backed by BRIC countries and other developing nations who argue that existing intellectual property legislation hinders the sharing of expertise in keys areas such as environmental technology and medicine.

The ACTA process began in 2007 and the resultant legal text that is currently doing the rounds of national parliaments in the EU and the USA is, Christian Engström concedes, similar to existing EU law.

The secretive negotiations during the extended process have however proved controversial, with the US demanding that internet service providers should deny internet access to suspected file sharers.

The US was however forced to compromise in the face of opposition from the EU.

Despite the somewhat watered-down agreement, Engström is however concerned that ACTA will increase pressure on ISPs to investigate internet users.

The process in Sweden is scheduled to lead to a government proposal for legislation based on ACTA to be presented to the Riksdag in the autumn.

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FASHION

Converse sues Swedish shop over ‘fake’ shoes

Iconic US sneaker brand Converse has announced that it is suing Swedish retailer Coop alleging that counterfeit shoes have been sold in its stores.

Converse sues Swedish shop over 'fake' shoes

The US firm, which is owned by Nike, is demanding 2.7 million kronor ($400,000) in compensation from Coop. It is furthermore demanding that Coop be prevented from selling shoes which resemble the original.

Coop had declined to comment on the latest move in the dispute.

“We want to read through the writ first,” said press officer Christine Kullgren.

Converse trainers have become popular again in Sweden in recent years and can be seen adorning the feet of all from hipsters to teens to toddler-toting mums despite their high retail price.

The firm asked a Swedish court in May for permission to search Coop stores after it noticed that Coop was selling its wares for about 399 kronor, half of the usual retail price of 799 kronor.

The company ordered some pairs and found the replicas lacked a number code that Converse uses to brand its genuine goods.

But Coop later rejected Converse’s piracy accusations, claiming that the shoes on sale at Coop Forum stores in Bäckebol, Norrköping, Skövde and Skara were the genuine articles.

“We’re very surprised that they would go forward in this way and ignore the documentation we sent to them when we first heard about the accusations that we were selling pirated copies of Converse shoes,” Coop spokeswoman Marika Hjelm Siegwald told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper in May.

“It’s not true,” she added, explaining that a law firm has helped Coop obtain certificates of authenticity from the manufacturers.

TT/The Local/pvs

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