New Zealand Decides Software Is Not Patentable

The New Zealand government has refreshed it’s Patents Bill to affirm that software is not patentable in New Zealand. The new bill is an update that replaces the country’s Patents Act of 1953.

The Commerce Select Committee has been working out the details of its Supplementary Order Paper for years. The order lays out the government’s idea that “A computer program is not an invention.”

“I’m confident we’ve reached a solution where we can continue to protect genuine inventions and encourage Kiwi businesses to export and grow,” Commerce Minister Craig Foss told The New Zealand Herald.

The government worked with New Zealand’s IT industry to to get the law right while international technology companies lobbied against it.

Ian McCrae, chief executive of New Zealands largest software producer Orion Health explained how software patents hurt innovation:

“You might see a logical enhancement to your software, but you can’t do it because someone else has a patent,” McCrae said. “In general, software patents are counter-productive, often used obstructively and get in the way of innovation.”

The U.S. has been more liberal in granting patents for software than other countries giving way to an entire industry of “Patent Trolls” who produce nothing, but sue companies with claims of patent infringement.

In February, The Inquisitrreported about efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to limit the parasitic power of patent trolls to limit innovation through The SHIELD Act. That law would force patent trolls to pay legal costs if they lose a lawsuit.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has made the end of software patents in the U.S. a personal mission by endowing a chair at the Electronic Frontier Foundation called, “The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.”

Cuban says, “Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer. That’s bad for consumers and bad for business. It’s time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help.”

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