Feeds

New Zealand softens software patent ban

Amendment welcomed by vendors, laywers

The essential guide to IT transformation

New Zealand has passed legislation which partially forbids the granting of software patents – but has come under trenchant criticism by the NZ Open Source Society for abandoning local developers.

Originally, the country’s new Patent Bill (which passed parliament on August 29) had been expected to ban software patents outright. That intention stands: a patent application for a computer program won’t be granted. However, New Zealand’s commerce minister Crag Foss amended the bill so that software “as such” can’t be patented, but inventions that include software can be.

For example, an office suite isn’t eligible for a patent, but a patent for an embedded system would cover the software inside as well as the hardware.

NZOSS says the revision throws local developers “under a bus”, because it creates a “legal loophole” which has “made a mockery [of] European Union patent legislation’s intent to block software patents”.

According to National Business Review the change has been welcomed by patent lawyers – not necessarily a good sign – as holding out against the free software movement because FOSS “robs inventors of the incentive to innovate and create new material if others can simply free-ride on that investment”.

Fairfax notes that one of New Zealand’s most important international brands, whitegoods manufacturer Fisher and Pykel, is as much an embedded software company as a hardware supplier, and would have been presumably concerned at the mooted ban on all software in patents.

However, there’s no particular record of Fisher and Pykel lobbying the New Zealand government – unlike Microsoft, IBM and the industry association NZICT, whose confabs with the Ministry of Economic Development are documented here.

It’s likely that the USTR, which this year criticized New Zealand for departing “from patent eligibility standards in other developed countries” will be sharpening its rhetoric next year. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?