Patents Bill SOP237 signals end to software patents in NZ

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Commerce Minister Craig Foss' SOP237 - announced today - demonstrates the government's commitment to ending software patents in NZ. The membership of the NZOSS and the significant majority of software developers in New Zealand are gratified by the government's willingness to work with the software industry to reach this stage - finally we can look forward to the new (and much needed) Patents Bill, the first update since 1953.

The amendment to the Patents Bill was covered well by the NZ Herald and ComputerWorld NZ among others, but the most comprehensive assessment of the change was provided by Guy Burgess published on the IITP website.

Of course, the change won't please everyone, but no matter: as demonstrated by a significant IITP poll and by a successful petition, the vast majority of New Zealand software professionals support blocking software patents and will breath a sigh of relief that the spectre of US-style software patent litigation is now unlikely to affect us here.  That said, as Guy Burgess sagely advises, we should remain vigilant to ensure that the practical implementation of the software patent exclusion lives up to its auspicious billing.

Perhaps our government's bold legislative move, already receiving very positive coverage overseas, will even inspire the burgeoning movements against software patents in other countries, including the US, to redouble their efforts. Now they have evidence that reasoned arguments by sensible people demonstrating the harm done by software patents can prevail.