New Zealand govt against software patents!

This is great result for our work from last year:

Substantial credit is due to the people in NZ that submitted letters making the case against software patents:

If you know of other letters calling to abolish software patents, please mention them in comments here or add to to the wiki at: New_Zealand#Submissions.

And I’d like to modestly take some credit for raising the alarm on this in May of last year and for the help provided via the en.swpat.org/wiki documentation.

The government’s proposal says:

We recommend amending clause 15 to include computer programs among inventions that may not be patented. We received many submissions concerning the patentability of computer programs. Under the Patents Act 1953 computer programs can be patented in New Zealand provided they produce a commercially useful effect. Open source, or free, software has grown in popularity since the 1980s. Protecting software by patenting is inconsistent with the open source model, and its proponents oppose it. A number of submitters argued that there is no “inventive step” in software development, as “new” software invariably builds on existing software. They felt that computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques. In general we accept this position.

While the bill would provide adequate incentives for innovation, however, we are aware of New Zealand companies who have invested in a significant number of software-related inventions, involving embedded software.4 We sought advice on the approach taken in other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and the United States, and whether legislation that would enable “embedded software” to be patentable might be practicable. After careful consideration we concluded that developing a clear and definitive distinction between embedded and other types of software is not a simple matter; and that, for the sake of clarity, a simple approach would be best. We received advice that our recommendation to include computer programs among the inventions that may not be patented would be unlikely to prevent the granting of patents for inventions involving embedded software.

We recommend that the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand develop guidelines for inventions containing embedded software.
[emphasis added]

We’ll have to continue working on this, and work is also needed for:

  • Australia – legislative proposal in the works.
  • Israel – patent office recently concluded a consultation, more to come.

More info can be found, now and in the future, at: