The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a multilateral treaty designed to strengthen anti-copying laws worldwide, has been rejected by the European Parliament.

The rejection, announced late last week, means the agreement will not apply in the European Union (EU).

MEPs accepted concerns that the treaty was too vague, and hence open to misinterpretation, opening the door for court rulings that might overly restrict freedom of speech and commercial innovation. It was the first time the parliament had refused to ratify such an international treaty.

The vote was piloted by UK Labour MEP David Martin, who said he was “very pleased” the parliament had backed “my recommendation to reject ACTA".

The vote, held on Wednesday (4 July), has drawn condemnation from the Scotch Whisky Association. “It would have given us another route to take action against fakes,” said spokeswoman Rosemary Gallagher. However, she stressed the fight against counterfeiting continues without ACTA: “There are national and international measures already in place which allow us to move to stop the sale of fakes.”

The EU had negotiated ACTA mainly with more developed countries including the US, Australia, Canada, and Japan. The agreement was opposed by India and China.