New Zealand has finally passed a new Patents Bill that will effectively outlaw software patents after five years of debate, delay and intense lobbying from multinational software vendors.Aptly-named Commerce Minister Craig Foss welcomed the modernisation of patents law, saying it marked a "significant step towards driving innovation in New Zealand"."By clarifying the definition of what can be patented, we are giving New Zealand businesses more flexibility to adapt and improve existing inventions, while continuing to protect genuine innovations," Foss said.
But how effective will this be in actual practice? Doesn't this only apply to such litigation brought to NZ courts and within its bounds?
Quote from: wraith808 on November 18, 2013, 12:10:25 PMBut how effective will this be in actual practice? Doesn't this only apply to such litigation brought to NZ courts and within its bounds?Yes. It's a start at least, with NZ getting it's own house into more sensible order.
Quote from: IainB on November 18, 2013, 02:27:23 PMQuote from: wraith808 on November 18, 2013, 12:10:25 PMBut how effective will this be in actual practice? Doesn't this only apply to such litigation brought to NZ courts and within its bounds?Yes. It's a start at least, with NZ getting it's own house into more sensible order.How many high profile software patent cases have been brought up in NZ court? Just wondering if this is more of a symbolic win than a practical one?
While I can see on Twitter that the movement pushing for abolition declares victory, that's not only inaccurate but also an irresponsible thing to do.
If people are misled to believe that New Zealand has (largely or entirely) abolished software patents, they will make decisions that they will sorely regret when they find out the truth too late. Some innovators will be discouraged from filing applications for software patents, and later they may be sued by those who know that software is still largely patent-eligible in New Zealand and won't have patents of their own to defend themselves with. And some people will believe they are free to infringe -- until they get sued and a court holds them liable.
The story that is being told by New Zealand politicians and lobbyists/activists is that the New Zealand patent reform bill adopts the UK case law on software patents, which is described as the most restrictive one in Europe.
Most media reports on the decision have been misguided, and have in turn misguided the readers of those articles. Interestingly, even an overtly (and sometimes shrill) anti-IP blog named Techdirt has been far more measured and closer to accuracy this time than all those mainstream IT media, saying that "New Zealand Sort Of Bans Software Patents" and that "while the intentions appear to be good, some of the language in the bill may open some loopholes, so we'll be interested to see how the bill is actually interpreted, and what happens within the actual tech sector".
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