The Patent Bill currently before Parliament will implement the intent of the Commerce Select Committee by excluding software from patentable inventions. Craig Foss is reported to say "These changes ensure the Bill is consistent with the intention of the Commerce Select Committee recommendation that computer programs should not be patentable," in the NZHerald.
In the global GIS, spatial data & web mapping arena ESRI plays a similar role as the dominant global player to Microsoft, but as with all analogies, don't treat this as 100% gospel. There are many players out there, in the FOSS arena and others.
The Open Geospatial Consortium is a standards developing body in the spatial software domain, generally supporting/facilitating interoperability.