New Zealand Defies International Pressure and Makes Software Non-Patentable

I’m immensely proud to be a New Zealand. Despite being a tiny country at the end of the earth we have historically shown the fortitude to make the big calls before others were willing to do so. The first country in the world to offer women the vote and the country that was prepared to stand up to the US and deny entry to nuclear armed ships. Our Prime Minister of the time, David Lange, despite immense pressure not to do so, argued against the very existence of nuclear weapons at the Oxford Union His words will forever be part of our collective memory and stand as an incredible display of courage in the face of immensely disproportionate political and economic power.

And today, once again, my country has stood up when it mattered and, despite massive pressure from some gigantic multinationals and the governments who would seem to be at their behest, has decided that software should be left out of the pending legislation around patents.

One only needs to look to the US and the truly bizarre situation of Nathan Myrhvold’s Intellectual Ventures, one of the best known, and least liked of the patent trolls, to see that software patents reduce innovation, prop up those who shouldn’t be and are detrimental to small companies. By making software non-patentable, my Government is making the industry do what it should – that is focus on moving fast, innovating well and giving customers the best solutions possible.

Ka pai New Zealand.

5 Comments
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  • Granting US Patents to software has been a signature failure for many reasons, not the least of which has been the inability of the US Patent Office to discern what is actually worth granting a patent.

    There is some movement in the US now, both in the courts and in the legislature, to restrict the activity of these so-called patent trolls.

    Software is adequately protected by the use of Copyright or if you are so disposed the use of Copyleft.

    So congratulations New Zealand for freeing yourselves from business warfare conducted by patent stockpiling and extortion from patent trolls.

  • Ben,

    Question, IYHO could this drive a NZ start up ecosystem? Ie would US startups flee the tyranny of US patent law to NZ?

    Q

    • Now that’s innovative thinking.
      NZTE..are you listening John? :-)

    • > drive a NZ start up ecosystem?

      Perhaps … you have to realise that once an “invention” becomes published or widely available to the public (eg beta testing) there is a 12 month deadline to submit a patent elsewhere in the world (absolute novelty standard). What the law provides is a freedom to operate within NZ so firms can implement something without fear of a software troll knocking on the black gate (xref LotR) but this doesn’t apply once outside the country. There are still problems if a troll starts suing your US customers.

  • Wow
    So now will Australia have the kohunas to follow suit.
    Good on you NZ, and it’s time someone somewhere led the way. Hopefully the US will soon see the errors of there ways and remove software patents. They kill innovation and based on some other global efforts to patent such as a drug company trying to patent a known eastern medicine that has a 3000 yr history Apparently it has no prior use

    Once again congrats NZ

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