New Zealand recently passed a new Patents Bill that bans software patents and in effect closes out five years of intense debate and monumental lobbying efforts by multinational software vendors.
Commerce Minister Craig Foss is one of the new law’s supporters. “By clarifying the definition of what can be patented,” he says, “we are giving New Zealand businesses more flexibility to adapt and improve existing inventions, while continuing to protect genuine innovations.”
Drafted in 2008 and overturned in 2010, the bill’s passage was nearly unanimous this time around. According to Paul Matthews, chief executive of the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP), “the patents system doesn’t work for software, because it is almost impossible for genuine technology companies to create new software without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents that exist, often for very obvious work.”
Matthews concludes that the new bill “sends a clear message to the rest of the world that New Zealand won’t tolerate the vexatious practice of ‘patent trolls.’”