New Zealand Politicians Want To Explicitly Outlaw Software Patents

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

As we wait for the Bilski ruling in the US (which my gut feeling tells me will have the Supreme Court totally punt on the issue of software patents), it seems like politicians down in New Zealand have figured out that software patents are a real problem. As a whole bunch of you sent in, a bill is moving through the process for patent reform that explicitly says software should not be patentable:
We recommend amending clause 15 to include computer programs among inventions that may not be patented. We received many submissions concerning the patentability of of computer programs. Under the Patents Act 1953 computer programs can be patented in New Zealand [...] Open source, or free, software has grown in popularity since the 1980s. Protecting software by patenting it is inconsistent with the open source model and its proponents oppose it. A number of submitters argue that there is no "inventive step" in software development, as "new" software inevitably builds on existing software. They felt that computer software should be exluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques. In general we accept this position.
This is a welcome development, certainly. Even more impressive is the general realization (often missed by politicians) that too much patenting is a bad thing and can seriously stifle innovation:
[the old act] has a low threshold for patentability compared with most other countries. This low threshold can lead to broader patent rights being granted in New Zealand than in other countries, which can disadvantage New Zealand businesses and consumers[...] This can discourage innovation and inhibit growth in productivity and exports.
Now if only New Zealand would recognize similar problems with copyright law as well...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 11:41am

    USPTO please read and understand!

    Maybe the USPTO will get a clue.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Richard Corsale, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    Re: USPTO please read and understand!

    It would have to pay royalties on that clue, and Congress spends their revenue before the checks clear.

     

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  3.  
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    patent guy (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    That'll teach me not to design software for the New Zealand market in the future.

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    Does it snow there? If not, I think I'll emigrate to New Zealand (should this pass).

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Sirknz, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 2:42pm

    @ Lobo Santo

    Yes it snows here but only in the lower half of the North Island south in winter. But you shouldn't worry because this 'suggestion' will be dropped from the final bill much like or Section 92a was 'dropped' at the select committe stage only to be put back in on the sly.

     

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  6.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Re: Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    only in the south or in the mountains. near the coast you just get rain. Christchurch gets maybe one or two snowfalls a year, and you're lucky if it settles and sticks around for more than a day in the shade. Auckland is borderline tropical, at least in summer, and gets no snow. the mountains, on the other hand, get Lots, every year. we have plenty of ski fields :D

     

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  7.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 4:48pm

    Re:

    side effect of people voting for National and Labour consistently.

    National seems to think American practices are a good idea, while Labour, when it doesn't have actual Issues poping up that it has to keep on top of, seems to periodically decide it needs to implement social engineering projects, about half of which seem entirely designed to concentrate more power in the bureaucracy

     

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  8.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re:

    damnit. forgot to remove the 'less than' sign based smilies.. that's like, less than 1/6th of what i said, but i forget the rest. gah. had it set to plain text and everything.

    anyway, was a big rant about us having political parties ranging from the useless to the dangerous, stupid voters, and then a general agreement with Sirknz.

    also, it might make it through if it stays low profile enough that no outside pressure is applied to the government to change it, or if it ends up being used as a smoke screen to cover another attempt at dodgy copyright law changes.

     

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  9.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re: Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    "If not, I think I'll emigrate to New Zealand"

    Well if you do move to NZ they can always go the ITC route and prevent you from importing your software into any other country.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Mr Big Content, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 6:40pm

    This Is Why Politicians Cannot Be Trusted

    Shame to see such noble politicians corrupted by exposure to yet another lot of no-name, tinpot special interest groups.

    There needs to be a law to ensure they only take advice from legitimate, registered, properly-backed organizations.

     

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  11.  
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    Dave, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 7:04pm

    Microsoft started by copying

    If MS Dos wasn't a total clone just made a lot friendlier then I don't know what is. MS used to plead to the government for protection from "stifling patents" otherwise no one could ever compete with IBM. Now that they are one of the big boys they hope nobody ever innovates so you stick with MS. Software and computer interfaces should never be patentable. Patenting multi touch is a joke.

     

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  12.  
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    Robert Miller, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 7:38pm

    Software Patents

    Intellectual Property is intellectual Property. Instead of moaning about it if you have a creative bone in you knuckle heads then create something and protect it or join some utopian commune and keep smoking you favourite weed.

    If New Zealand wants to join the first world it has to realise that Patent have been around for ages, even the Bolsheviks and Maoists believe in Patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    patent guy (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    That'll teach me not to design software for the New Zealand market in the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Richard Corsale, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 8:35pm

    Re: Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    How will they ever get along???

     

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  15.  
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    Tony, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    Leaves plenty of room for other people looking for opportunities then.

    All designers, be they for programs, interiors, products etc can make a living doing commissioned work and really dont have to rely on selling a mass produced product, thus patents are going the way of the dinosaur as customization becomes the norm.

     

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  16.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    Re: Software Patents

    never mind that attempting to follow 'first world' (ie, American) practices is a large part of why we're Not a first world country anymore. (though apparently we still pay first world level taxes...)

    not the Only reason, but certainly up there.


    (it still amuses me that the NZ$ was worth more than the US$ for a while...)

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 10:57pm

    Re: Software based sheep rearing patent rendered useless

    You won't raise my allowance? That'll teach me to do chores in the future.

    Sorry, your extortion attempts are a failure.

     

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  18.  
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    1Place (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 11:03pm

    10 years since human genome was sequenced with patent protection having a role

    I think that the New Zealand approach is very sad. It is 10 years since the Human Genome was sequenced, during which software & genes were patented. I wrote a short article on this at http://1place.com.au/wptest.php

    The disruptive protection of patents in software and genes made the race move forward at a rate never previously seen. Further, it lead to more genetic code being delivered into public gene libraries by Craig Venter's firm Celera, than was contributed by the established government funded sciences at the time.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2010 @ 5:52am

    Re: 10 years since human genome was sequenced with patent protection having a role

    "patents in software and genes made the race move forward at a rate never previously seen"

    A race to the bottom

     

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  20.  
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    abc gum, Apr 1st, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re: Software Patents

    "Intellectual Property is intellectual Property"

    Brilliant ! The insight provided is astounding.

    "Instead of moaning about it "

    Not sure what you are talking about, I do not hear any moaning. (there is a joke there, but I will take the high road)

    "create something and protect it or join some utopian commune and keep smoking you favourite weed."

    I'm sure many people create many things, and some of those people do not have the infantile need to "protect" their creations. Having made this choice does not cause them to become communist hippies.

    "If New Zealand wants to join the first world "

    They would want to join because the "first world" is such a shining example of the correct way of doing things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    PCL, Apr 7th, 2010 @ 3:39am

    Re: Software Patents

    The arguments for patent protection for non-software inventions all apply to software, so I see no reason to exclude it. Software patents are complicated by the fact that both prior art, and violations can be concealed in non-published source code. Software can also be protected this way, which renders patent protection less important, though still useful against independently developed code that violates a given claim. The standards for novelty should probably be higher for software than other inventions; there's no need to protect the software equivalent of the "Pet Rock". New, non-obvious algorithms which perform useful tasks should get some protection though. It's always amazed me the way copyright protection for music, movies and literature is thought by many to be a "sacred right" while patents on useful inventions are regarded by some of the same people as nothing more than tools for extortionists.

     

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  22.  
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    Arthur Baldwin, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Software Patents

    I'm not a New Zealander, I live in California. But I agree with this article, that Software Patents should be explicitly outlawed, not only in New Zealand but everywhere...especially in the USA. The reasons are clearly visible everywhere, from the world of technology to politics. I've designed a T-Shirt that gets right to the heart and foundation of this issue: "Intellectual Property is an Oxymoron. Even the most original ideas are gifts from God". I hope that Americans will think about what I'm saying.

    Sincerely,

    Arthur

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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