U-Turn On Software Patents Law

NZ tech invention looks to be safeguarded, at last.

UnknownAS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED, the IT industry has strongly objected to changes to a standing order paper submitted by Commerce Minister Craig Foss, which could have seen software becoming patentable in New Zealand. Now it appears that Foss has reversed his thinking on the issue in a move which will no longer see software being covered by patents.
Many in the IT industry argued that patenting software would stifle NZ’s emerging software industry, with lawyered-up multinationals taking smaller local developers to court, killing off local innovation in the process.
While discussions around amendments to the Patents Bill are still before Parliament, Foss’s standing orders paper has clarified the ambiguities around software patentability, making it clear that software will not be patentable.
While Foss didn’t say which factors led to the change of direction, he did mention the level of opposition to the proposed law changes, saying that “I would like to thank the NZ software and IT sector for their engagement over the last few months. I’m confident we’ve reached a solution where we can continue to protect genuine inventions and encourage Kiwi businesses to export and grow.”
patent_lawPaul Matthews, head of the Institute Of IT Professionals, say that “while the Institute supports intellectual property protection in general, the consensus amongst IT professionals was that the patent system simply doesn’t work for software. Thus today’s announcement from Commerce Minister Foss was warmly welcomed.”
Labour’s IT Spokesperson Clare Curran, says: “It’s a huge back-down for the government. Big congratulations to the hard work and determination of the software industry and IT sector generally, which has worked tirelessly for three years to protect and enable our innovation sector to thrive. There was a unanimous decision by the select committee in 2010 to back our local software sector. We’ve been proven right.”
The changes to the standing order paper ends opposition, which saw the software industry from NZ create a petition that secured just over 1200 signatures asking the Minister to reconsider his amendment. PAT PILCHER

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