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.

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