Summary: The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is still supporting a back door to software patents, despite premature celebrations that software patents were rendered dead in New Zealand
ACCORDING to some renowned economists, software patents would not be of value to a country like New Zealand, where software patents have been entered through the back door. There is this update on the NZOSS mailing list and the president of the FFII says that “it looks likely that the IPONZ guidelines will define embedded software and allow for embedded software to be patented”
Later he points out that an “NZ Minister [argues] inventions involving “embedded” computer programs should be able patentable“:
Commerce Minister Simon Power has instructed the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) to develop guidelines to allow inventions that contain embedded software to be patented.
“IPONZ will formulate draft guidelines and seek the views of interested parties,” Mr Power says.
The process will begin once the Patents Bill has passed its final stages in Parliament.
NZCS seems to be missing the EU-style trick as it goes with the headline “It’s official: Software will be unpatentable in NZ”
Despite what appears to be a big-budget lobbying effort by the pro-patent fraternity, Hon Simon Power announced today that he wouldn’t be modifying the proposed Patents Bill hence software will be unpatentable once the Bill passes into law.
This is significant. As we’ve previously pointed out software patents aren’t black and white, and there are certainly pros and cons. However on balance, we believe they represent a far greater risk to smaller NZ-based software providers than opportunity, and there are many cases where they have significantly stifled innovation.
Tectonic says that “South Africa must take lead from NZ on software patents,” but what really was achieved over there? It’s not as bad as it could possibly be, but it seems like software patenting loopholes may remain. This won’t be the last time we heard from New Zealand about this subject. █