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NZ software giants join patent bill protest

Petitioning against patent trolls

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Updated: govt says "no" New Zealand’s largest software exporters, Jade and Orion Healthcare, have lined up with the NZ Open Source Society, InternetNZ, and local industry lobby NZRise to ask the government to revise its proposed patent laws.

The bill is designed to remove software from patent protection in New Zealand. At the same time, however, parliament sought to ensure that software in embedded systems would still be patentable.

Its approach was to insert the words “as such” in the legislation:

10A(1) A computer program is not an invention for the purposes of this Act.

10A(2) Subsection (1) prevents anything from being an invention for the purposes of this Act only to the extent that a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such.

According to the petition released by the groups (PDF here), the ambiguous wording of the bill is certain to result in “sustained legal attack”, as has happened in other jurisdictions.

The signatories to the petition offer this alternative wording:

10A(2): Subsection (1) does not prevent an invention that makes use of an embedded computer program from being patentable.

As well as the organisations listed above, the petition has been signed by more than 1,000 individuals. It may, however, be too late, with a vote on the bill imminent. ®

Update: Fairfax is now reporting that the petition has been rebuffed, with a spokesperson for New Zealand's commerce minister saying he does not intend to make further changes to the bill. ®

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