Friday, August 31, 2012

New Zealand bans software patents, but with a few loopholes

Whether or not the patent system is actually helpful in its current form, we leave to the legal and technical experts. But here’s a jurisdiction that has taken quite a radical approach: New Zealand. ZDNet reports that the New Zealand government is moving ahead with plans to ban software patents.

[A] memoradum that explains the Patents Bill amendment states the following:
Rather than excluding a computer program from being a patentable invention, new clause 10A clarifies that a computer program is not an invention for the purposes of the Bill (and that this prevents anything from being an invention, only to the extent that a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such).
According to the New Zealand Open Source Society, the use of the phrase “as such” at the end of the memorandum has opened a loophole that can be easily exploited.
Meanwhile The Register is reporting

"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."

Source The Register
All other sources I've found, incuding the parliamentary order paper, are reporting that the law hasn't passed yet so it's highly likely that they have misinterpreted the situation.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SMX quits NZICT in protest over Patents Bill stance

SMX has publically resigned from NZICT this afternoon, following industry group's support of controversial changes to the Patents Bill.

"We feel that NZICT does not represent NZ software companies' interests, as its tier 1 membership, board and funding is derived from large off-shore companies or their local partners. These off-shore software companies have a huge amount invested in the software patent gravy train and in stifling local competition."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Govt accused of Patent Bills 'betrayal'

The New Zealand Open Source Society reacted angrily to the [Patents] bill's new wording in a blog post. "With the removal of the explicit software patent exclusion, and the addition of two tiny words, 'as such', Foss has more or less thrown Kiwi software developers under a bus," it said. The minister might believe he had struck a "clever compromise", but the clarification represented "a legal loophole the size of a bus", it said.

New York Times stands up to patent troll.

The New York Times Co. is girding for a legal battle that many larger organisations have avoided. The Times is leading the defence of a diverse group of companies that use technology they assumed was free: sending text messages with Web links to mobile phones.

The technology was patented by inventor Richard J. Helferich, who filed an outline of how such a system would work with the US Patent and Trademark Office in September 1997. He was granted several patents on the method, giving him the right to sue companies that use it without permission.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Google says "Patent Wars Not Helpful to Anyone"

At an Aspen conference in Mountain View, Calif., Pablo Chavez, Google’s public policy director, referred to the patent wars, saying that they are not helpful to the marketplace or to innovation. He further said that patent wars are not helpful to the consumers at all.

However, there are many who see this statement as a reaction to the social search giant’s ongoing legal battles with Oracle, which Google won at trial, and Apple, which is still pending. Software patents are getting too controversial in technology circles, where most of the companies are taking its rivals to courts for infringing each other patents.

Source Tech Thirsty

IBM, Microsoft, and the BSA Promote Software Patents in New Zealand Behind the Scenes | Techrights

Multinationals from the US, namely Intel, IBM [...], and of course Microsoft, have been lobbying for software patents in New Zealand. According to news from the site which is dedicated purely to fighting software patents, “[o]n May 7th and June 8th, 2010, Microsoft and IBM met privately with members of New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development (MED).

They claim to have convinced the Ministry to abandon plans to exclude software from patentability in the proposed Patents Bill. “There was also a private exchange of emails between the MED and Microsft, IBM, and the Business Software Alliance in the month before and after the meeting, where those three organisations submitted policy documents.”
Source Techrights