Somewhat misleading

February 18th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The latest article by on software is somewhat misleading. I actually agree with Pat (and have quoted him before) that software should not be allowed. But the issue is about how the current law is depicted.

Pilcher wrote in the Herald:

At the end of the day, should software become patentable in New Zealand, the future winners will most probably only be large law firms and the multinationals who can afford them. In the US over the last 20 years, The estimated cost to the US economy of patent litigation has been an estimated half a trillion US dollars.

This is very misleading, as it strongly implies software is not patentable at the moment. It is. Apart from the normal tests for obviousness etc there are no restrictions at all on software patents.

The law is going to change, and it will ban at least some software patents. So in fact the change in the law will be the opposite direction to what Pilcher implies.

Now what the dispute is about, is the wording of the exemption. As has been described in the past, many worry the Government’s proposed wording which is based on European (and I think Australian) law will still allow some software to be patented. That is a legitimate concern and I prefer the wording backed by the Open Source Society and put forward as an amendment by Clare Curran.

But that doesn’t change the fact that even with the Government’s wording, the law is going to change from all software being patentable to most software not being patentable.

There is a good Wikipedia article on the pros and cons of software patents.

3 Responses to “Somewhat misleading”

  1. krazykiwi (8,245 comments) says:

    A software patient is only as good as your capacity (aka time and money) to pursue claims of breech. From my limited experience, there is zero determination of ‘prior art’ before a patent is granted, leaving it to the patent holder to test that in court. Expensive stuff.

    Then there’s the thorny issue of whether the software itself is what’s patented, or if the patent really refers to the capability/function that is enableed by the software.

    That aside has anyone here read a patent document? They have to be the dryest, dullest most boring documents on earth! Avoid, and go really really fast for first mover advantage 🙂

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  2. Monique Watson (1,324 comments) says:

    Okay Socialist Smurfs. What value is a company if it doesn’t have IP? That kind of company will never list on the NZX.

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  3. DylanReeve (184 comments) says:

    And companies can be destroyed by software patents. In fact many technology patents, but software especially. Software businesses should be the same as so many other industries – competing on the merits of their products rather than trying to prevent anyone else from making anything remotely similar or, worse still, trying to extort companies who are successful.

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