Software patents outlawed & banned in New Zealand

The national legal system in New Zealand has passed a new Patents Bill designed to outlaw and therefore ban software patents.

Kiwi commerce minister Craig Foss (Foss on FOSS as in Free and Open Source Software — honest) is calling this a modernisation of patent law for the country saying that it will drive innovation if software development patents are left open (and, effectively, non-existent) rather than tied down with legal red tape.

“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,” said Foss.

“Passing the Patents Bill guarantees that genuine inventions are protected, and Kiwi businesses can continue to innovate and grow,” he added.

Chief exec of New Zealand’s Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) Paul Matthews has backed up the commerce minister’s statements.

Matthews has said that the patents system simply “doesn’t work for software” due to the fact that it has become almost impossible for genuine technology companies to create new software applications without them breaching some (or many) of the hundreds of thousands of software patents that exist.

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The patents bill is detailed at this link and reads as follows:

This Bill is designed to replace the Patents Act 1953 and update the New Zealand patent regime to ensure that it continues to provide an appropriate balance between providing adequate incentives for innovation and technology transfer while ensuring that the interests of the public and the interests of Maori in their traditional knowledge are protected.