Patent Discussion Hots Up

Posted on: April 16, 2010 - 12:39 By: Feynmanfan

Several organisations have weighed into the software patent debate. Intergen, who proclaim to be leaders in the application of Microsoft technology, have supported software patents. They join NZICT, an organisation ironically dominated by multinational companies. Ian McCrae of Orion Health, the biggest software exporter in New Zealand has supported the exclusion of software patents joining the 80% of members polled by the New Zealand Computer Society.

Intergen's Chris Auld claims that rejection of software patents will discourage venture capital in New Zealand. He suggests that it will discourage people with keen minds from entering software development.

CEO of Orion Health, Ian McCrae has a different opinion, supporting the exclusion of software patents saying "Obvious things are getting patented. You might see a logical enhancement to your software, but you can’t do it because someone else has a patent. It gets in the way of innovation."

NZICT, an organisation which purports to represent New Zealand software companies, has accepted that software patents are "less than perfect solution", but continues to be critical of the Commerce Select Committee's decision. NZICT has not however published a poll on the opinion of it's membership, as the New Zealand Computer Society have done.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Computer Society conducted a lightning poll of its membership to determine whether the membership supported the decision of the Commerce Select Committee to exclude software from patents. The result was overwhelming support in excess of 80%. As a result Paul Matthews, Chief Executive of the NZCS wrote a letter of support for the decision to the Minister Simon Power.

In the letter Mr Matthews concludes that "NZCS represents a broad church of ICT professionals and no doubt some of our members have different views on software patents (as with all things). However in the same way that Section 92a of the Copyright Act was harmful, albeit with the best intentions, the evidence certainly appears clear that software patents are simply too potentially harmful to our sector, and in fact innovation in New Zealand, to support."