Summary: Bits of important news from Australia and New Zealand, less so from Europe
IN THIS status quo of “patents as products” we keep hearing about patent-pending hype/bragging rights from incognito companies. They do not always have products, but they sure have pieces of papers with an idea on them. The situation is worse in the States than in most other countries and Australia, for example, still has activism fighting the issue:
When it comes to software patents, Melbourne developer Ben Sturmfels is sure of one thing: his campaign to end them in their entirety will succeed in the long run.
Though he is a free software advocate, Sturmfels campaign against software patents extends to all genres of software. Patents can affect proprietary software as much as they do free and open source software, he pointed out when I met him recently.
In February, Sturmfels’ petition was accepted by the government’s Petitions Committee, in three batches. “Collecting 1000 signatures on paper is a hard task and a huge one in terms of the amount of paper needed,” he said with a grin.
More recently we saw some similar activism in New Zealand, where there is a danger that the “Software patent law in New Zealand [might] be overhidden by the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).” Here is another article about it which says: “A pending international trade treaty could override a recent New Zealand law change that excluded software from patent protection.
“All the political parties supported the controversial change. But the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) could see the US pro-patent view override our local law makers.
“Last month, I met Trade Minister Hon Tim Groser and the government’s chief trade negotiator to get the inside word on what was happening with the TPPA, particularly in relation to technology and intellectual property (IP).
“Mr Groser’s openness and candour was excellent and I can’t speak highly enough about the minister’s willingness to engage and discuss these issues.”
The situation in New Zealand has been eerily similar at times to the situation in Europe — a situation so depressing that we prefer not to write about until after Christmas.
Watch how some people are treating patents like property. To quote a new example:
The Government has published draft legislation for its Finance Bill 2012, which includes draft measures aimed at creating improved conditions for business investment and growth in the UK. The proposals include a new tax scheme intended to reduce corporation tax for profits arising from patents, dubbed the “Patent Box”.
“Law” sites keep promoting software patents in the UK, under seemingly innocent titles. We are going to address software patents in Europe in a later series of posts later in the month. We need to do some activism to defend European software developers from the bureaucrats, paper-pushers, and multinational monopolists. █