Curran on ACTA and Patents

Clare Curran blogs:

This is one of those times when the Opposition says the government’s done a good job.

Which I think it did last week in chairing the secret talks on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and gently pushing for transparency. I think they’ve listened to the people who are raising serious concerns about the secret trade talks and the rights of citizens.

After more than a year of sustained pressure, the countries negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) decided that the time is right to release the draft text of their work.

Kudos to the Government for their part in this decision. Not only did they obviously push for transparency, but chaired the session that finally got agreement from everyone to do this.

MFAT also hosted a reception last Tuesday where local stakeholders could meet the negotiators and discuss issues. This was a welcome initiative, and I found it quite useful. Was impressed when a couple of officials told me that they actually agreed with most of the points in the Wellington Declaration. Also had interesting chats with some of the EU negotiators over their laws, and our S92A.

Clare also blogs on the software issue:

Giving the government more credit. Twice in once day. Phew.

Now don’t let your eyes glaze over just because I’m talking about patents! I’m giving the government credit so listen up.

The Patents Bill, which is about to come back before the House for its second reading was originally crafted in 1953 it was long overdue for a redraft.

One of the most interesting changes to the Bill is  a proposal to exclude computer software from being patentable, on the basis of it being, like books or movies or music, based on a concept and receiving protection under copyright. …

And Simon Power recently announced the Government would back the Select Committee’s recommendation, which I think is the right call. This is already the case in Europe.

Many software patents have been used to stifle competition or extort money from firms. A few years back a Canadian firm, DET, sent invoices to hundreds of NZ small businesses demanding royalties as they had a patent for mulit-currency e-commerce systems. The patent was eventually disqualified, but it took considerable effort.

The NZ Computer Society has backed the proposed law change, and a poll of their members found 80% support for that stand. Their letter to the Simon Power sets out the arguments well.

Good to see an Opposition Spokesperson taking the time to say “Hey we actually think the Government made the right calls here”.

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