USPTO is Driving Away Businesses to Countries Like New Zealand, US-based Multinationals Attack New Zealand With Imperialistic Patent Lobbying to Assimilate Policies
The Empire Strikes Back
Summary: Haven from absurd laws is offered by countries which are in turn being corrupted (through crooked oliticians and domestic partners) such that software patents are inescapable
A FEW years back, when the second-biggest financial collapse (in the past century) happened in the United States, a lot of Americans migrated to places like Australia and New Zealand. Amid the rise of Bush and the war he brought about, some people left the country in protest and moved to New Zealand, which is also where a former colleague of mine moved with his wife partly for idealogical reasons. If the goal is to drive away talented people (including veteran professors and immigrant students), then parts of the administration are doing a darn good job. For everyone else in the States this should be cause for concern and alarm because this puts in jeopardy the nation’s status as a leader in innovation (marked by achievements from NASA for example). When patenting becomes a norm and patent trolls a fact of life, surely there is a deterrent that can suppress absorption of “real” scientists — those interested in researching in peace. Colleagues in my field cannot obtain software patents, so they can only ever apply for such monopolies in the USPTO. And what for? We work for the Computer Science department that is ranked 15th in the world and patents were not needed to get there at all. In fact, ranks do suggest that for researchers, the United States becomes a less desirable vocation. To what extent has the USPTO been responsible for this? It is hard to reliably measure this because, as stated earlier, it’s a multi-factor/factered problem which includes debt, militarism, competitive trends (notably the rise of the Far East), and even the network effect that drives Nobel prize winners to countries where they are better funded (which in turn takes their research groups to those other countries). Software patents can truly depress a field and limit one’s freedom of exploration. Who on Earth would engage in this practice of self-punishing by bringing legitimacy to software patents? As Dr. Richard Stallman explained a few years back, Europeans should repeal and repel any attempts to legalise software patents because it puts Europe in a considerable advantage over the neighbours across the Atlantic (consider the European developer who was safe from Shazam’s software patent bullying [1, 2]). Needless to say, if the US lobby manages to turn the EU into a hub of software patents, e.g. via the unitary patent, then it instantaneously belittles Europe, which has almost no software patents and thus “starts behind”, so to speak. Replace “EU” with “New Zealand (NZ)”, “China”, “India”, “South Africa” and so on, then realise that the same applies to all of those countries, where American multinationals assisted by their government (which they fund through campaign contributions) are trying to corrupt through selected politicians — some of whom we named here before — so as to enslave foreign populations by the “IP” arm and the lawsuits boot. Treaties can usher bullying, even if the bullying is silent and often blamed on illusionary culprits. Too political? Fine. Get used to it, as that’s how patent policies are set in stone. It’s not about technical merit but about those who lean to the green (money).
With that long introduction aside, we shall turn our attention to the southern hemisphere. NZ is having the same problems Europe is having at the moment and there is this new “Podcast on software patents legislation in New Zealand” (links directly to a software patents-encumbered file, ironically enough). Well, the file is an MP3, so for the sake of those without MPEG-LA patent licences we have made an Ogg version (direct link) and we hope someone can transcribe.
“Over and over this island nation has proven a rational understanding of innovation in software as something that can and should be copyrighted but not patented.”
–ClearFoundationNZ is reaping the benefit of Free/open source advocacy groups like NZOSS (which recently drove away Microsoft software patents [1, 2], as still reported by the neighbours in Australia too) and the general policy in this large island, which is admirably hostile towards software patents. In our NZ/kiwi software patents wiki we provide some chronological background for the uninitiated and we are routinely getting some gratifying feedback from readers based in NZ. Just yesterday, Aaron Bylund, writing to me in Twitter, explained “[w]hy ClearFoundation (non-profit entity supporting ClearOS) is incorporated in New Zealand.” He is going to connect us with the ClearFoundation. He links to this post which says: “As our involvement with the Clarkconnect team grew tighter and tighter, we realized that to protect something that is fundamentally protected by copyright alone (as it should be) we needed to keep it safe and untainted. In our search we considered some great places like Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore and even the Principality of Hutt River. In the end we decided on New Zealand. Over and over this island nation has proven a rational understanding of innovation in software as something that can and should be copyrighted but not patented. Additionally, it grants freedoms to businesses better than nearly any other nation. So, we give a shout out today and cheer to New Zealand. Let those that would seek to implement software patents there join the ranks of those that have decided to back down. Long live New Zealand, home of ClearFoundation! Hip Hip Huzzah! And thank you NZOSS and NZCS for all your hard work.”
Well, yesterday we explained Microsoft’s lobbying for software patents as a FUD weapon against Linux and Android and based on this good NZ-based source Microsoft is angry and its executives are not even hiding it. Quoting the article at hand:
The Government may need to go back to the drawing board over the way software patents will be treated under its proposed Patents Bill, after guidelines drawn up by officials to safeguard hi-tech manufacturers were slated by legal experts.
Parliamentarians delighted the open-source software movement and troubled large corporates such as Microsoft last year by including a clause in the Patents Bill that says software is not a patentable invention.
Microsoft New Zealand legal counsel Waldo Kuipers hoped dissatisfaction with the separate guidelines, which are designed to accompany the legislation and address the specific issue of embedded software, would open the door to a fundamental rethink.
A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Simon Power said he had received advice from the Economic Development Ministry, but it was too early to say whether the Government would consider amending the Patents Bill, which is currently awaiting its second reading.
Critics of software patents have argued they have mainly been used to lay claim to rights over obvious ideas or to extort money, creating a nuisance and stifling innovation.
Intel too is named there by the BusinessDay.co.nz reporter, Tom Pullar-Strecker. He ‘forgets’ to mention who NZICT actually serves (it’s a lobbying group for the likes of Microsoft, pretending to stand up for "NZ" for extra credibility) and there is also the Institute of Patent Attorneys. No need to tell the expected bias there, right? None of these is interested in the interests of NZ but only in profit, usually for some billionaires abroad (lawyers too need them as clients).
“Do not listen to US-based multinationals, who are willing to lie for their own wallet.”If Mirosoft is dissatisfied, then it means that it is good for software freedom and for the freedom of the population in NZ. Do not listen to US-based multinationals, who are willing to lie for their own wallet. It’s their obligation to their mostly American shareholders. For example, Intel participating in this FUD and it should be disgraced for this. In another article from NZ (this time from IDG, which is based in the US), there is a complaint about the current NZ patent policy. It says: “Most submissions on the guidelines formulated by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on patentability of software suggest the guidelines have not achieved the desired clarification of proposed legislation and may have served further to muddy the question of what software is or is not patentable.
“Section 15 (3A) of the Patents Bill – currently awaiting its second reading in Parliament – simply states “a computer program is not a patentable invention”. This clause was inserted by the Commerce Select Committee, on the strength of a number of submissions.”
“Show us the way, NZ, and prove to the world that even small nations can stand up to multi-trillion-dollar (aggregated market cap) coercion machines that grease up politicians and retaliate against critics.”Well, loopholes using the “embedded” or “device” trick, companies like Microsoft can probably get around the law (hacking it), just as they do in Europe already (no hacking “as such”), IDG seems to be missing this important point, but then again, it’s IDG, so don’t take it too seriously. It’s the Fox 'News' of IT.
All in all, the press in NZ usually gives a lesson to the US-based press, which hardly does enough (if anything) to oppose the bad laws that permit software patenting. The watchdog press is dead there, as we noted several days ago in relation to US coverage on software patents (too conformist, too obedient to existing law and afraid to challenge them). Show us the way, NZ, and prove to the world that even small nations can stand up to multi-trillion-dollar (aggregated market cap) coercion machines that grease up politicians and retaliate against critics. █