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New Zealand U-Turns, Will Grant Software Patents

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the go-back-you-are-going-wrong-way dept.

Patents 94

ciaran_o_riordan writes "Due to lobbying by a group called NZICT, New Zealand's parliament is now set to let go of its proposal to ban software patents. Patent attorney Steven Lundberg announced the details in a blog entry. This was quickly deleted, but not before it got stored in Google's cache. Here we can read that 'Hon Simon Power has asked MED [Ministry of Economic Development] to work with the Parliamentary Counsel's Office to redraft the section along the lines of the European Patent Convention.' Which is exactly the opposite of March's announcement that 'computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques.' The background to this case gives every reason to be hopeful, if computer users in New Zealand get active again."

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94 comments

once again... (-1, Troll)

aussieslovethecock (1840034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662838)

We've lost a great battle in the war against piracy. Can't we all get together in this and start pushing for a HUGE COCK in your mouth ?!

Re:once again... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662866)

Friend, you have little chance of New Zealanders doing that. They are too busy with their sheep.

Re:once again... (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663044)

You're thinking of Australia

Re:once again... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663566)

Don't forget Wales! And North East Scotland where I currently reside. Now if ewe'll excuse me..

Re:once again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32663730)

U-turn or turn with a Ewe?

Re:once again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32662918)

what the fuck is wrong with the comment system!?

Simon Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32662844)

sucks eggs.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32662846)

Prior Art [sgpolitics.net]

So what (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662874)

This will have as much effect as Switzerland banning whaling.

Switzerland HAS banned whaling (2, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663098)

And the world-wide actions against whaling ARE having an effect. Japan is "fighting" it tooth and nail but if you look closer it is more a case of saving face while slowly giving in then outright resistance. The number of whales is on the increase while whaling might soon be going down even further.

So your point is completly and utterly wrong.

Remember that even the longest journey starts with a single step. Your kind never ever gets anything done ever because you are unable to accept that you need to set this first step if you ever want to start out.

"OMGZ, thisser pln not solvers evything at oncers, ts fail!"

Re:Switzerland HAS banned whaling (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663136)

And the world-wide actions against whaling ARE having an effect.

Banning is one thing, but enforcement is another. I take it you think the Swiss navy are doing a good job?

Re:Switzerland HAS banned whaling (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663272)

The cetacean population in the Bodensee has remained remarkably stable recently, so they must be doing something right.

Re:Switzerland HAS banned whaling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32663958)

o <-- Joke

    v
---o--- <-- F-36 jet from a Swiss aircraft carrier

o <-- You

Mailing out Patent Absurdity (2, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662882)

Someone's suggested mailing copies of Patent Absurdity [patentabsurdity.com] to patent policy setters in NZ. They've started building a list here:

Add as many names as you can think of - and we'll need something to indicate why this person is relevant and address. A name on its own is useful, but if that person is to receive a copy, someone will have to dig up an address.

Citation needed? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662892)

I don't want to sound overly sceptical, but the evidence for this is a blog post that the blog's author has since deleted, right? Would it kill someone to email the blog's author and ask why it was deleted? Could it be that it's inaccurate in some material way? I'm not arguing that the post's deletion is a demonstration of inaccuracy, but it raises an eyebrow.

Re:Citation needed? (0, Flamebait)

aussieslovethecock (1840034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662924)

Would it kill someone to email the blog's author and ask why it was deleted?

why don't you do it yourself you lazy fuck.

Re:Citation needed? (5, Informative)

stevebwriter (1840148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663048)

I have spoken to two spokespeople for the NZ Ministry of Economic Development (MED), who confirm the essence of the meeting (as reported at http://tinyurl.com/25dr6r4 [tinyurl.com] Not yet printed (as at 10 pm NZ time June 23) is my brief interview with NZICT CEO Brett O'Riley about the meeting. So yes, it definitely happened. MED says there has been no real change; they are only "clarifying" what the Parliamentary Select Committee meant to say all along. I find it very hard to read any such significance into their report (PDF link at http://tinyurl.com/37wyoyg [tinyurl.com] ). Steve Bell Computerworld NZ

Ginger Balls! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32663564)

I have spoken to two spokespeople for the NZ Ministry of Economic Development (MED), who confirm the essence of the meeting

What are you, on your way to a...dick meeting?

Re:Ginger Balls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32664934)

..Conchords illiterate mods!

Re:Citation needed? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32664842)

Awesome, thanks.

Re:Citation needed? (2)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32669958)

I assume from that, you are in NZ. I'm in NZ and I don't know the best way to make my opinion on this issue known. Should I just contact my MP, or is this in a committee or something that I should be contacting other people about?

Re:Citation needed? (1)

QuestionsNotAnswers (723120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32672192)

Thanks heaps for that information. I am involved with a software company in NZ so this affects me directly.

Re:Citation needed? (1)

IanBal (1804634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663210)

Let me guess - He let the cat out of the bag when he shouldn't have and tried to hide his tracks by deleting the entry.

The problem with NZICT. (5, Interesting)

BlakJak-ZL1VMF (256320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662952)

One of the key issues with NZICT is that they claim to represent the New Zealand IT community, and yet in reality their membership is governed by commercial size - and of course, all the large outfits with precious few exceptions are the local chapters of the multinational giants (Microsoft, HP, et al).

So what this situation illustrates is

a) The Select Committee process is a joke (as it appears if you have sufficient clout, you can ignore it and go straight to the minister)
and
b) NZICT are shooting a good portion of New Zealand's home grown ICT industry in the foot, and pretending that it's for the good of the industry at large.

By and large the Patent world provides leverage for large firms with large patent portfolios and the budget to play in the legal marketplace. It hurts smaller firms who don't have the capital for prolonged legal battles. The arguments 'for' Patents are not entirely without merit (imho) but the arguments 'against' outweigh them by a mile - unless there's profit to be lost.

Re:The problem with NZICT. (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663032)

Perhaps the smaller members of the group need to be reminded of how the larger members of the group benefit more than them, to the possibility of putting them out of business;

-`Patents artificially sque the economies of scale. The eventual conclusion is removal of all but the top company.`

Re:The problem with NZICT. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663314)

Patents artificially sque the economies of scale.

[Spanish accent]Kew? [/]

IBM's role in New Zealand lobbying questioned (2, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663622)

Simon Phipps, former chief open source executive of Sun Microsystems, has just asked IBM's open source VP Bob Sutor via Twitter [twitter.com] (with a reference to this very slashdot story) to clarify IBM's role in lobbying for software patents in New Zealand. It will be interesting to see Bob Sutor's response, should there ever be one.

When it comes to patents, IBM stands for International Bullying Machines [blogspot.com] ...

Re:The problem with NZICT. (1)

Meat_Popsicle (656) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663962)

> One of the key issues with NZICT is that they claim to represent the New Zealand IT community, and yet in reality their membership is governed by commercial size

They make no such claim:

"Formed in December 2008 the NZICT Group is an industry association made up of over 80 leading New Zealand ICT companies" - http://ict.org.nz/ [ict.org.nz]

By definition, an industry association is governed by commercial size.

Re:The problem with NZICT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32665772)

Seems that the tier 1 and 2 members are mostly, if not all, international companies. I doubt they have NZ's best interests at heart.

Re:The problem with NZICT. (1)

BlakJak-ZL1VMF (256320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32673586)

Pussyfoot around the wording all you like; "New Zealand ICT" is pretty descriptive all on its own. By their very name, they claim to be 'representative' when they're most clearly not.

Re:The problem with NZICT. (1)

Meat_Popsicle (656) | more than 4 years ago | (#32674266)

What idiocy. If I claim to be representative of men, you'd complain that I'm not including the views of women.

Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32662976)

Once again people who have never even read a software patten comment
on the patten process, and presume to know everything.

A "software" patent usually does not mention the word "software"
anywhere within it. There is no way to tell if the patent is
purely about software or not - at least not from a legal perspective.

What makes a patent admissible is if it has particular application
and contains a novel inventive step.

So even the most outright ban on all software within patents would
change little really. Moreover an outright ban is far more than any
patent system has ever thought about enforcing.

So there is no war going on here except in your head.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663014)

What makes a patent admissible is if it has particular application
and contains a novel inventive step.

AND contains a clearly defined implementation. That part is important or you get idea patents.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663174)

yes, this is aleady part the patent process.
it is called the "preferred embodiment".

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32663036)

What makes a patent admissible is if it has particular application
and contains a novel inventive step.

Where novelty is widely interpreted by patent examiners as having a meaning that is best translated for the layman as "fucking obvious".

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663276)

> Where novelty is widely interpreted by

So what do you propose?

When you get down the the practical reality of writing patent
legislation, there isn't terminology that you can propose
that can do any better than the current legislation.

If you think I am wrong, please read actual patent legislation
and propose your changes. Perhaps *you* are the closet legal
genious that is going to change the world.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32664316)

Easy - here's a patent law that will have no adverse effects, and (studies have repeatedly shown) will in fact have major benefits on the economy of any country that uses it. In fact, the only adverse effect whatsoever is that it will subject the nation in question to significant international pressure, but it's likely success suggests this is a short term problem as the countries this pressure comes from will be unable to deny it's success to their own citizens in the long term - and be forced to adopt it as well.

The perfect patent law: ""

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665414)

You mouth off, but all you can say is that patent law must be
scrapped.

Scrapping patent law is under the catagory of ridiculous theoretical
stuff that is just not going to happen. Sort of in the same league
as moving the earth further from the sun in order to reduce global
warming.

This strips you of any credibility you may have had. Not the least
because you believe such studies - without having read them.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665654)

You mouth off, but all you can say is that slavery laws must be
scrapped.

Scrapping slavery law is under the catagory of ridiculous theoretical
stuff that is just not going to happen. Sort of in the same league
as moving the earth further from the sun in order to reduce global
warming.

This strips you of any credibility you may have had. Not the least
because you believe such studies - without having read them.

-paul

----------
You mouth off, but all you can say is that appartheid law must be
scrapped.

Scrapping appartheid law is under the catagory of ridiculous theoretical
stuff that is just not going to happen. Sort of in the same league
as moving the earth further from the sun in order to reduce global
warming.

This strips you of any credibility you may have had. Not the least
because you believe such studies - without having read them.

-paul

-----
You mouth off, but all you can say is that monarchism must be
scrapped.

Scrapping monarchism is under the catagory of ridiculous theoretical
stuff that is just not going to happen. Sort of in the same league
as moving the earth further from the sun in order to reduce global
warming.

This strips you of any credibility you may have had. Not the least
because you believe such studies - without having read them.

-paul

----

Have I made my point yet ?

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32666096)

Your point is non-sensical.

Right NOW, outside of your dream world, the patent system is intrinsic
to the functioning large segments of our economy. And you clearly
have no idea how this patent system works because you have never taken
the time to read a real patent in your life.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32666536)

Man you make a lot of assumptions. Not so long ago the HORSE was intrinsic to how large sections of the economy work. The same can be said of all three my examples.
Monarchism was once intrinsic to how much of the economy worked. Slavery even moreso - in fact the sectors it was most intrinsic to was, at that stage, by far the most important parts of it (agriculture in particular).
So your argument is a strawman. Things that are intrinsic to the economy is by no means unchangeable because the economy is a human construct and can be altered to reflect changes we wish to accomplish.

Some of those industries that today depend on the patent system will find new ways to operate, some will cease to exist - well so what ? Practically every human advancement puts somebody out of business, and a bunch of new people in business. What do you think Watt's commercially viable steam engines did to the mailcoach industry ?

Everyone of those laws I mentioned was once deemed so intrinsic to the very fabric of society that even those who believed they were wrong frequently declared their abhollition impossible. George Washington was an abholitionist but never acted on this (he even owned slaves) because he believed it an unattainable goal... I'll bet every single African American is really happy that Lincoln didn't agree.
I lived through the end of apartheid, from the time when it was believed that it would be impossible to deconstruct this system without abandoning the country to a massacre - and saw us emerge as a peaceful society on the other side of it's destruction - adapted and renewed and the better for it.
Monarchism stood for thousands of years as the only form of government in any society larger than a single village (and even in most of those)... republican ideals were floated all too often and basically never realized except for a short (and partial) part of the roman empire.
This didn't stop Robbespiere from advocating it's destruction - and it didn't stop the French Revolution from happening - which in turn changed the entire planet. It didn't stop your own founding fathers from shirking off monarchic rule in America (actually a little before the French - but you were a colony, they threw of a monarch in their OWN country).

In short you are ridiculously ill-informed about history. Every single event in history we actually bother to record has this in common: it changed something that was, until that time, generally believed to be unchangeable.
We owe it to ourselves as a species to learn from history - to ALWAYS reevaluate our systems and determine if they are still relevant and get rid of those that aren't and replace those for which better systems are available.
Essentially your entire argument comes down to a call to tradition - which is a fallacy. Your attempt to paint mine as reducto et absurdium is false, and therefore a strawman.

The patent system came to being because it was, apparently, at the time a good idea. We HAVE to be able to ask if this is still true- and when the clear answer is no (and the only consenting voices are those giant corporations with a vested interest in they very REASONS why it's a bad idea now) then we have to advocate it's end.
Saying it's "intrinsic" and therefore cannot ever be changed is well... stupid. We created it, we can destroy it - and your fatalistic claims are ... stupid.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675390)

The world of pure theory based on scant pieces of info is a fun place to visit.

In your case, these are the small pieces of info you happen to have run into while traveling in the dark.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675492)

Wow, you're posts are getting more worthless with each reply. You've now dropped any pretense of sensible argument and simply resorted to plain good old fashioned ad hominem.

Ever post I've made in this thread has PROVEN your "pure theory" idea to be the utter bullshit it is with multiple constant examples showing how systems that were once intrinsic were dismantled when they were no longer useful. Moreover I made the very crucial claim that if ANY system EVER became IMPOSSIBLE to dismantle even when it did more harm than good, that humanity would actually start REGRESSING instead of PROGRESSING.
So it's really GOOD for us as that the only impossible thing is for a human construct to become impossible to be deconstruct.

Ultimately a patent is not some material thing. It's a concept. Patent laws (in fact all laws) are IDEAS. And ALL ideas CAN and MUST change over time. That is the very essence of human development.

So the very foundation of your argument is complete and utter bullshit and all of human history proves it so. In fact, that's what MAKES it human history. The neanderthals should at first sight have ousted us. They were stronger than us, when they started at least as technologically advanced as when we did (we both started with pretty much: fire and a spear).

Thing is... thirty thousand years later, they STILL had... fire and a spear.
We had been around for ten thousand years by then - and we were well past the wheel already. In the five-thousand odd years since we've invented civilization, literature, writing, beer, computers and space travel.

We've remade the entire PLANET to our desires... and you want to tell me that an IDEA is impossible to change. I have never heard a more nonsensically and intrinsically stupid argument in my entire life. You make me want to nominate the very first "cupholder guy" for a nobel prize.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675760)

In the say way I am sure you can show a verbal parallel between
any two items of subject matter.

This doesn't mean the parallel is useful or applicable.

You are too lazy to spend the time understanding what the patent
system is really about because your own pre-conceived opinions
excite you too much.

People like you - who have intense opinions about things they
know little about - are amongst the biggest problem makers.

It called "filling in the gabs in one's knowledge with
generalizations."

Please realise that though you may think this makes you look
really smart - it is actually very transparent.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675928)

I don't believe you have the slightest evidence by which to measure what I may or may not know about the patent system. All your post did now was to describe weak analogies - but an analogy is only weak if you are not aware of it's limitations or assume that where there are crucial differences, the behavior of A must be similar to that of B.

There is no problem in using an analogy to show how the things that are SIMILIAR between A and B can help you successfully predict how B will behave.
What I did was show you examples of laws that were once thought intrinsic to society and impossibly idealistic to want to change, all of which, nevertheless did change. Since the only point I was making was that patents are also a matter of law, and thus are mutable or even discardable, there is absolutely no knowledge of the fine details of the patent system REQUIRED for my statement to be true.

Hence I did not bother to elaborate. My analogy was based only on what these things have in COMMON - they were all LAWS. Human IDEAS. That were changed. Patents share this attribute, and it's therefore fully logical to assume that since any law CAN change, there is no reason patents couldn't.

There may be practical difficulties to overcome first, but there ALWAYS are. You assume those practical difficulties to be impossible and insurmountable, I do not. History shows that they never are.
Now speaking as somebody who is very informed of both the history and nature of the patent system and has been making an active study of it for nearly a decade: In fact, on the contrary - the practical difficulties in getting rid of the patent system are significantly smaller than the other examples I have mentioned.

The risks we'd need to take, the potential short term losses are all massively smaller than what it took for any of the other changes I stated. Far greater difficulties have been overcome to change bad systems, and interestingly somebody who was directly involved in such a process, maybe you've heard of him fellow by the name of Benjamin Franklin. Pretty clever guy, you know he was also one of the most prolific inventors of his generation - and VOCALLY opposed to the idea of a patent system. His incredibly opposition was the main reason there ISN'T one in the US constitution, though it was decided not to actually prohibit one, so that later congresses could deal with the issues if new circumstances were to arise that changed things.

I wish he had been more insistent -because he was right, the very idea of owning invention (even for a short time) is an affront to human dignity.

But none of this even matters much. We never discussed why I am against and you are in favor of patents. You declared such a discussion worthless because you - according to you, it would be impossible to abolish the patent system, ever.

I proved that the patent system, like any other bad legal system can and must be changeable or abolishable.

Now before you say it, yes indeed the stakes of the ordinary person affected by for example slavery was higher than patents so they were more motivated to change it, but then the difficulties to overcome was much higher as well. For most of them - it meant risking life and limb in wars. Slavery got abolished though, eventually worldwide.

Patents have a lesser impact on ordinary citizens (but that impact is growing exponentially, each year more businesses are unable to be started because of patent-nets protecting the incumbents. More products are getting more expensive for normal people because of patents preventing competition. Right now it's reaching critical status in pharmaceuticals and other industries MUST follow) so the motivation for abolishing patents will only get bigger. The practical difficulties however are not going to get bigger. They are, right now, as bad as they will ever be.
A fairly intense (but short-term) economic knockback, which will see several huge industries radically altered or even disappear, but yes it's very short-term because you will immediately see the rise of new industries and the adaptation of old ones to take advantage of the new opportunities offered. Ultimately MORE people will have jobs, more companies will start, more products of better quality will be available.
The only other major practical difficulty is the degree of control that incumbent businesses with a huge vested interested in the patent system's failings have over lawmakers. But that control is still, ultimately, less than that of a determined citizenry.

As the negative situations created and exacerbated by patents grow worse and worse the call for it's ends will get louder - when it gets so that to be elected you MUST be anti-patents, no corporation can bribe the politician enough anymore.

We risked life and limb to end laws we didn't like. You think people won't risk putting bayer out of business ? Bayer is only worth anything to us as long as we can afford it's products. When enough people can - it's adapt or die time. That's history, if you think for one second that IP or copyright or any other law is not subject to the same pressures as any other laws, no matter how noble their initial intent - then you are just completely naive.

Now either give me a real argument or don't bother to reply because if you fail once more to actually address anything I say, I won't bother to reply to you. I'm getting bored with giving rational and substantiated arguments to somebody whose responses can be summarized as "oh yeah ? well you're stooooopid".

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32676182)

> I don't believe you have the slightest evidence [...]

We can discuss further after you admit you have never
read a single patent in full.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32676272)

Why would I admit something that isn't true ?

Why yes, I HAVE in fact read multiple patents in full.

In fact, this is going to shock you, I OWN four different patents. On mechanical inventions not software.

See I didn't ALWAYS believe patents were bad. That knowledge came with increased study. The fact that this would cost me the (not insignificant) monetary value of my four inventions as ideas is to me, of no consequence. In fact, I believe I will ultimately be able to capitalize and monetize my patented inventions BETTER in the ABSENCE of patents.

So I read (and in fact insisted on overviewing with te lawyer every step of WRITING) those patents. I also read several others in full, including Microsofts XML patent which they filed in South Africa and which I was an active activist in the complaint against (because software patents aren't legal here and it should never have been granted).

I will admit that I have read rather fewer US patents and the (small) legal differences does mean they are not exactly the same, but I have read a few and understood them for the most part.
Did I mention I read groklaw on a regular basis as well to supplement my own understanding with those of practicing lawyers ?

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32676618)

Then can I please have your four patent numbers.

Software patents are legal in South Africa as they are anywhere else,
both with and without the patent reforms advocated by "slashdotters".

You just need add to the prologue of the patent text "a generic computer
comprising of CPU and volatile storage..." and then it is no longer a
"software patent".

It is only PURE software patents that are excluded by anti-software
legislation. It so happens that there are almost no PURE software
patents anywhere because lawyers are always careful to include the
text above just to be sure. And in any case, a PURE software
patent would have no utility so would be excluded from admission
in any case.

Because the above is not understood by software developers is
why they are erroneously campaining against this straw man.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32676970)

>Then can I please have your four patent numbers.

You're going to do a patent search in the South African patent office (which does not have an online search facility b.t.w) just to try and prove me ignorant of patents ? And I'm supposed to be so indignant that I call your bluff or if I don't then you win ?

*yawn*...
Oh... and you still haven't told me what this has to do with anything I said ? I never discussed the structure of the patent system so even if you were right here... SO WHAT ? You never answered, at all, any of the things I actually said. So how does it feel when I now completely ignore YOUR point ? Especially since it's completely irrelevant ?

>Software patents are legal in South Africa as they are anywhere else,
>both with and without the patent reforms advocated by "slashdotters".

No. They are NOT. In fact the law specifically PROHIBITS them. The problem here is something else. We have no patent checking process. All patent applications are granted by default, and then revoked if there is a complaint (and this complaint is found valid) so despite software patents beings specifically illegal, microsoft now holds over 300 of them in South Africa. Including a patent on Tabbed-browsing (like they could possibly have invented that...)
http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Software/9622.html [mybroadband.co.za]

So much so has their actions been that there is in fact now a non-profit organisation here that specifically exists just to file complaints against their patents (well they do activism and stuff too but that's the core of it - and yes, I'm a member and contributor): http://ftisa.org.za/ [ftisa.org.za]
People who are actually law professors in South Africa like Andrew Rens (Author of the South African Creative Commons License) do not agree with your claims about it. I believe them better informed about South African law than you are.

>You just need add to the prologue of the patent text "a generic computer
>comprising of CPU and volatile storage..." and then it is no longer a
>"software patent".

Sorry my friend, but you don't even understand our legal SYSTEM let alone our laws. It doesn't WORK like that here, NOTHING does. Here judge's word have the force of law (in fact the body of legal decisions are known as the "common-law"). More importantly in any ruling our law requires a judge to rule on the SPIRIT and INTENT of the law, NOT it's letter. Nobody here ever gets off on a technicality and clever wordplay won't let you file a patent that's illegal.

>It is only PURE software patents that are excluded by anti-software
>legislation. It so happens that there are almost no PURE software
>patents anywhere because lawyers are always careful to include the
>text above just to be sure. And in any case, a PURE software
>patent would have no utility so would be excluded from admission
>in any case.

Let me take it a step further and say that software patent, regardless of whether it includes your little disclaimer, does not have any utitility and should be excluded in any case. Many people believe that a patent system is a good thing, and here on /. many of them advocate it - merely restricted to exclude certain things, like e.g. maths and software and plots for books.
But knowing that lawyers think like you, that they think adding a stupid sentence to the top of the page changes a bad patent into a good one without altering what it covers in any way... well that's why I no longer believe patents are a good thing AT ALL.
I actually think they were a pretty good thing in for example the automotive industry. But they way they are used in the software industry and pharmaceuticals is so incredibly bad that I would wager the small advantage they give in those industries they were meant for are greatly outweighed by the massive harm they do in others. Trying to restrict them out of those clearly won't work because lawyers exist.... so all that's left is to scrap them entirely and let the few good things they do find other ways to survive.

Here's a question for you... all other patents require blueprints to be granted, it's fundamental to the patent idea that whatever you patent must in future become reproducible by anybody... so how on earth can we have software patents AND copyright WITHOUT source code on the same algorythm? How does this not defeat the entire PURPOSE of the the patent system ? Can you get a more clear example that it's time has come and gone ?

>Because the above is not understood by software developers is
>why they are erroneously campaining against this straw man.

Well that's why I'm NOT complaining about software patents, I once did, now I'm advocating the end of ALL patents. To prevent it's continued abuse. I do understand this. I also read the published researched Doctor Michael Chrichton did on gene-patents (which he later used as the basis for the fictional novel "Next") - and he came to the same conclusion there...
Basically in ever industry, every scientist who actually studies the impact of patents find it harming their industry and want it excluded. Software guys are what you hear on slashdot because there are so many of us here who work in software. But it's not different in all the others...
That knowledge, which isn't so common here, that is why I want them ALL gone.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32677302)

> No. They are NOT. In fact the law specifically PROHIBITS them.

No it does not. It specifically prohibits PURE software patents.
Once again you show you have never read the actual paragraphs in
law, but are prepared to rant about it none-the-less.

> so how on earth [...]

Once again you make it clear that you have never read a patent
in your life - at least not a "software" patent. Once again
you take your little knowledge (of mechanical patents) and
generalize it into things you know nothing about.

It is pretty curious to me why you needed to pay a lawyer
to file a patent when it would have been accepted by the
South African patent system anyway.

The end of all patents is something that, like most of your
giberish, is a purely theoretical subject of no benefit to
discuss.

It all sort of gives a clear picture of the sort of general
personality disorder you seem to have.... living in a dream
world etc., and drawing analogies between the patent system
and apartheid. etc. which is basically bat-shit insane by
anyone's measure.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32677594)

So we're back to calling my claims "theoretical", "insane", "stupid' etc. without giving the slightest backing to your argument.

Why did I pay a lawyer (well I didn't pay much, it helps to have a couple in the family) ... duh, because having it written by a lawyer means I could ensure that it wouldn't be easy to just work-around by using a minor modification. It also meant that in the event of a complaint, it had a much smaller chance of being struck down.

You know what though... while people like Andrew Rens says "software patents are explicitly forbidden under South African law", and while we are a country with a Dutch-Roman legal system NOT an Anglican legal system like yours, I will trust the law professors HERE rather than you.

Either way this discussion is going in circles. I will keep giving arguments based on evidence and proof, you will keep giving counter-arguments based on neener-neener-neener, and eventually, I' sure, you'll drag it back to the substance of patents as opposed to the questions *I* am asking which is:
What are their benefits ?
What are their cons ?
Adding up both - does it make sense to still have them ?

For me the calculation comes to a clear: no.

You have given absolutely NO answers to these questions, you have made no effort to quantify their impact on society and show them as being a positive thing. You just declared them impossible to be rid off. Like you're saying "if their good, great because their here to stay, if they are bad well they are here to stay so no point caring."

Well... I don't agree with that way of thinking. Since I don't feel like going round the circle again however. This is my final post on the topic. Welcome to my foes list. I've been on slashdot since 1999 (though this is my second account)... you're the first person EVER to get on it.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32677722)

Have you ever found out anything for yourself in your life
instead of just quoting selected second hand statements of
other people?

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (4, Informative)

pieterh (196118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663056)

The reason software patents are described as funny kinds of machines is to get around the disgust with which most people feel when maths and logic are turned into private possessions by force of lobbying.

However, no matter how bizarre the patent language, and no matter whether or not the patent is granted or not, the final decision lies with a judge who determines whether or not the patent applies to a product being imported or sold. At this stage it is extremely simple to distinguish what is "software" from what is not. If you can download it and run it, it's software. So take for example a media player accused of infringing MP3 patents. If I can download and run a new codec, that is software.

Now, who decides whether or not software is patentable? Clearly this clique of US firms trying to control the NZ market are cheating by referring to "Europe", since the same clique hacked the EPC over so many years, fighting EU civil society for years as it then tried to make that hack into EU-wide law.

What they are now doing in Europe is to try to create a separate non-EU patent court that will decide on what is patentable, and what is not. Where judges are chosen by the patent industry. Which works for its clients, i.e. patent holders. I.e. Big pharma, big software, and big telco will be, indirectly but still in a controlled fashion, choosing the judges, and deciding on the outcome of patent arguments.

It seems relatively cheap to buy lawmakers.

The real issue here is simply democracy, and who makes the laws, and how.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32663196)

It seems relatively cheap to buy lawmakers.

Why can't we, the rest, the plebes, who ultimately pay all the costs pushed down on us, including that bribe given to lawmakers, somehow gang together and outbid the guys who are dumping out money from our pockets? Their big bucks shouldn't scare us, all of it is coming from us, it all passes our hands first. Officials corruption seems like a scheme which could be short-circuited if we just decide to do so. Time for a new global grassroots movement. "Together, buy our democracy back from corporations"

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663214)

Why? Because you don't understand the patent system
and have invented a conspiracy.

Please go read actual software patents in the google
patent search before you mouth off about a non-issue.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663206)

> maths and logic are turned into private possessions

well, when has this actually happened? You presume this
effect is in play because everyone else on slashdot is
alway ranting about it, but do you have actual examples?

Otherwise you are like a hairdresser complaining about a
conspiracy to stop scientists from producing perpetual
motion.

> At this stage it is extremely simple to distinguish what is "software

Your logic is amiss here. Whether or not a patent has been
violated has nothing to do with the form of the product.
And it never will, even under legislative proposals most in
your favor.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32671628)

Well, we can always go back to "one click" being a patent for "put it on my tab - on a computer." Anything that's obvious and has been done for thousands of years with "on a computer" added on the end is a silly patenting of a logic with millions of acts of prior art.

The IP system in the US was set up with three (and a half) categories. Trademarks are identified ways products are marketed. They are perpetual, but must be actively defended or are lost. They exist to prevent fraud by deliberate confusion of consumers. They are very limited in scope. Such as, the pork people would like it if no one used "the other white meat" but them, however it would be legal for, say, a porn movie to be called "The Other White Meat." I would expect they wouldn't because the pork people would sue them, even if they didn't have a legal leg, and sadly, because they would be suing porn, the porn people have a good chance of losing, despite having the law on their side.

Then there is copyright. It is placed on creative works (and only creative works, no matter how much effort it takes to make them, such that an assembly of a model or a paint-by-numbers wouldn't be covered, nor would a painstakingly done re-creation of a Public Domain work, like a copy of the Mona Lisa). Very brief items aren't sufficient, even if creative. Movie titles, ad slogans, and such can't be copyrighted. Originally, "discoveries" can't be copyrighted either. 2+2=4 is a true statement that wasn't created, but instead was discovered. But now, DNA within your body that has existed for hundreds of years in you and others can be copyrighted. Technically, every time a cell splits in your body, you owe some geneticist $150,000.

And last is patent. It used to be for mechanical devices which were created. Then for ones which were fully described and replicable, though possibly impractical to assemble. Now, it's used for words that describe nothing other than what can never exist other than just on paper.

People are patenting copyrightable items. People are copyrighting physical items that lack creativity which are closer to patentable than copyrightable (like DNA). And then there's nutjobs like Mr. Stealth (I don't know his real name, but you'll find him if you google on it) abusing trademarks. And there are people trying to copyright short items more like movie titles. And trademarking bottle shape (possibly patentable, but not a logo or something that could create confusion). Trademarks were never created to enforce differentiation, but to prevent confusion. Pepsi's blue on a Coca-Cola curved bottle won't make someone think it's a Coke product, so it shouldn't be trademarkable. And DNA isn't created, invented, or anything else. It existed long ago and is discovered, so it shouldn't be covered by any IP, because it doesn't fit any of the definitions.

Whether or not a patent has been violated has nothing to do with the form of the product. And it never will, even under legislative proposals most in your favor.

But then it isn't a patent. It may be some other form of IP that they need to make. But to put it under "patent" when it's nothing more than a string of words on paper and nothing else violates everything patents are based on. You can't patent words. You copyright them. But the software makers don't want that, because anyone can take that general idea, once done, and implement it in a completely different manner. So they want to patent ideas. But that's not what patents are. Patents are for machines, not ideas. And software to run on a general purpose computer is never anything other than a thought, or at most, an idea laid out on a piece of paper or a text file.

Oh, and if you were curious about the "half" for three and a half versions if IP, there is Trade Secret. It's protected, but mainly under contract law, not copyright law, though it gets protections from both.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675366)

Thanks for this long essay explaining what should be obvious to anyone
who engages in this discussion. You needn't have waisted your time.

You think because you have read about the different types of IP that
you are now an expert. Have you ever APPLIED for a patent or trademark
yourself? No, you have not.

Have you ever looked through the patent or trademark archives and actually
read real patents IN FULL to understand how patent law works in practice?

Also no.

You say "people" are doing this and that. Says who? Says slashdot posters?
Have you ever downloaded any of those patents and read them?

You need to come out of your world of sitting in your deck chair and
staring out over the ocean and theorizing about stuff, and believing
everything you hear.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32688004)

If it's so obvious, why is US law (and/or courts) not treating it like I described?

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32688086)

You don't know that they aren't.

Look, just like there are incompetant programmers that write bad
code there are incompetant lawyers that badly prosecute or defend
a case, and there are judges who don't get things right either.

You don't know what happened in these individual cases until
you have studied the court records in detail. Furtunately
judgments are usually available online so you can read these
in full. Why don't you select an example of your choosing
and study it?

Anti-patent news media will select the most sensationalist
aspect of the case and portray it unfairly in order to attract
YOU to read it. It doesn't mean the case is indicative of
a bad system.

Slashdot seems to have gone down the road of sensationalising
this subject. The same way that non-tech news forums
sensationalize stem cell research.

The most amazing part is that the most UNtrue posts get the
highest moderation value.

This has now become a forum of people who have collectively
agreed to NOT understand the patent system and support each
other in a voice of a non-cause. It's a totally invalid and
non-sensical rebellion empowered by concensus.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 years ago | (#32700212)

You don't know that they aren't.

But what I said is internally inconsistent. The law doesn't allow for it. So if the courts are treating it as I say, then how do they reconcile their findings with the fact that the law doesn't allow for the patenting or copyright of "discovered" items when such items have been both copyrighted and patented.

This has now become a forum of people who have collectively agreed to NOT understand the patent system and support each other in a voice of a non-cause. It's a totally invalid and non-sensical rebellion empowered by concensus.

The patent and copyright systems are broken, and complete abolition would better serve getting information into the Public Domain than having those systems in place. As such, I'd argue that means that they are unconstitutional, as they are only allowed for the purpose of advancing science and arts, and if they don't, then they are unconstitutional.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

daithesong (1124065) | more than 4 years ago | (#32664912)

"the disgust with which most people feel when maths and logic are turned into private possessions" -- sort of like the disgust when math and logic are turned into an ingenious machine, or chemistry is turned into an ingenious process? After all, chemistry is how matter works, how could you patent that? The idea of a 'software patent' is a strawman. Technologies are patented, they are ways of doing things. Sometimes they can be implemented in software, for sure. Codecs patent signal processing and data compression and error recovery, for example. Build hardware, write software, the same thing is happening. There are techniques now implemented in software which used to take dedicated machines. Ignoring that the patents have probably expired, what makes the software expression of that technique any less protectable than the machine was?

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665476)

exactly right

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32666144)

If you can't see any difference between software and hardware, you are obviously not working on the field. You wouldn't be a patent lawyer, by any chance?

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32666464)

I have been a C developer for 15 years.
I know the difference between software and hardware.

But YOU on the other hand do not know anything about patent
law. Patent law, and patents themselves, are like algorithms
that cannot distinguish between between software and
hardware the same way as a computer algorithm doesn't
know whether it is the real AbbeyRoad writing this,
or someone who stole AbbeyRoad's password.

Of course Patent law is a lot easier to understand
than software. So I am sure if you are good at
writing software, spending some time reading through
patents (or better yet, trying to write a patent) will
sort out your misguided views faster than you can say
Knuth.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32671644)

sort of like the disgust when math and logic are turned into an ingenious machine, or chemistry is turned into an ingenious process?

The process is patentable. The machine is patentable. But the logic behind it is not. They want to patent the initial though, the logic, and the result. And that's not what patents are for.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675322)

"They"??

how do you know this?

In actual fact a patent has to apply to a specific utility to be
accepted. Please go read some real patents on google so that you
know what you are talking about.

-paul

Software patents are very confusing to me (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663428)

I live in the USA, where the constitution explicitly states that mathematics cannot be patented. Yet somehow, patents are granted on algorithms.

Re:Software patents are very confusing to me (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665790)

You live in the USA, where the constitution actually does NOT mention patents at all.

But in patent law in general, there is no real distinction beteen algorithms
and mathematics. Patent law in fact does NOT restrict someone from patenting
pure mathematics. This is just what people on slashdot say who do not
understand patent law and have never read a patent in their lives.

What patent law actually says is that an invention that does not have a specific
PHYSICAL utility cannot be patented. This prevents someone from filing a patent
on an aircraft part and then claiming infringement on a gardening tool.

In actual fact enormous numbers of pure mathematics patents are filed each year.
They are just written within the context of a particular industry - like for
example medical imaging, or broad-band communications.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663624)

What makes a patent admissible is if it has particular application and contains a novel inventive step.

Yet many patents are admitted where there is prior art (thus the inventive step is not 'novel') and where the step and application are painfully obvious to anyone with a degree of understanding in the relevant field. The patent system needs to be overhauled, currently it is not serving the purpose which it was created for.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665698)

> Yet many patents are admitted where there is prior art

oh? give me an example of one?

You say this just because OTHER PEOPLE are always citing examples -
Yet if you actually read through software patents you will find
each and every patent is legitimate with very few exceptions.

Now, it is not possible for a patent examiner to refuse to
admit a patent that has been correctly prosecuted. This means
that the applicant has justified the novelty, inventiveness,
and utility of the invention.

The fact that some inventions are technically stupid or
retrospectively obvious does not mean the patent system
is broken.

The fact that some people think free software is threatened
by patents does not mean it actually is. Any time you write
code you are violating patents. To be worthy of a law suite
requires a certain fair context.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32667662)

Any time you write code you are violating patents. To be worthy of a law suite requires a certain fair context.

-paul

I find it hard to believe you can say something like this and argue that the patent system is fine.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675302)

Because you don't understand it, you find it threatening.

There are many systems in our society that are not perfect, but for
which there is no better solution.

If you would like to propose BETTER legislation than we currently have,
then please do. But then you must ACTUALLY PROVIDE VIABLE LEGAL WORDING.

Don't complain and then say that SOMEONE ELSE must make the fixes using
a magic wand.

I think what you will find when you investigate this thoroughly, is that
the sort of changes that the "free software" community would like to
institute don't make legal/workable sense.

-paul

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32680132)

This would be where our viewpoints differ then. I don't have the perfect solution at hand, I'm sure that a team comprised of experts in different industry areas (Taken from multiple companies that are not in cooperation) working with a lawyer or two could come up with a better system.

Your outlook seems to be this is as good as we have now so it's better than nothing. My outlook is when something has as large of an effect as the patent system do it right or we're better off without it. While I don't agree on the issue, looking at it from your viewpoint your argument makes rational sense so let's just agree to disagree.

Re:Slashdotter's confused - as usual (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32688022)

> I'm sure that a team comprised of [...]

well this has already happened, and is continuing to happen.

Google cache (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32663026)

I'm not familiar to the context of NZ on this matter, or even the relevant individuals. But I'm touching a tangent on something mentioned by the OP:

Steven Lundberg announced the details in a blog entry. This was quickly deleted, but not before it got stored in Google's cache.

Does Mr. Lundberg know that his blog post is now cached? I wonder how he'll react if he happens to find out about it?

Self-inflicted reduction of competitiveness (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663058)

Software patents hinder progress because they give existing slow-moving, dinossaur-like large companies the tools to kill small innovative IT companies before they outcompete them and turn into the large companies of the future.

In Software there are no basic concepts which are trully new or innovative and require patent protection - pretty much any software concept can and will be independently reinvented again and again because all professionals in the field will come up with similar solutions when trying to solve similar problems.

All software which is sufficiently complex for being non-obvious is already protected by copyright due to it's sheer size - no patents needed.

Any country that adopts Software Patents creates the conditions for the stagnation of their own Software industry - Software Patents are used by large companies to kill, while they're still young, any and all companies which might've one day turn out into something like Google.

For a country like New Zeeland, which has no large software companies, enacting Software Patents will just kill local software companies for the benefit of larger foreign ones. This is pretty much the pinacle of stupidity.

As an European I tell you New-Zeelanders: don't follow-up on the footsteps of the EU and the US - in 20 years time all new and innovative ideas will be coming up in countries where, thanks to weaker IP enforcement, the cauldron of innovation and unfettered competition continues to bubble at full strength, while places like the US and the EU will see their economies continuing stagnate and decay because the few new ideas they still manage to produce are being killed in the cradle.

Re:Self-inflicted reduction of competitiveness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32672416)

This is a clear and insightful summary. Can you please give those of us in New Zealand permission to use it in letters, etc.?

Re:Self-inflicted reduction of competitiveness (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32675042)

Feel free to use it anyway you want. Not attribution needed.

My ideas are free for all to take and used or discard as they see fit.

Content of Google Cache : (4, Informative)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663082)

Now preserved here in Slashdot comments for when it evaporates from cache:

New Zealand Brings Software Patents back From Brink of Extinction
New Zealand looks like its reversing course on software patent protection. On June 9, there was a meeting between representatives of NZ Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and representatives of NZICT Group. It appears that New Zealand is likely to ultimately adopt an approach to software patents that is consistent with the EPO’s position. My thanks to Jim Hallenbeck (Schwegman) and Paik Saber (IBM) for relaying this information.

Here is the summary of the meeting provided by Brett O’Riley CEO of NZICT:

Our representative delegation met with MED in Wellington yesterday. This was to discuss the formal submission we had made to Hon Simon Power last week covering our concerns about the proposed draft legislation.

The end result of the meeting was extremely encouraging. While section 15 (3A) will not be removed (our ideal outcome), Hon Simon Power has asked MED to work with the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office to redraft the section along the lines of the European Patent Convention. He has informed the Commerce Select Committee that Crown Law will be undertaking some redrafting before the bill gets to its Second Reading.

While it’s obviously not the end of the journey, it was very pleasing to have a positive indication that the Government recognises there is a need to amend section 15(3A) to make sure it’s consistent with the intent of adopting European practice. While European law does restrict software patents this is positive progress, and the view of our team is that this would be a good outcome for the New Zealand ICT industry.

In summary, the MED confirmed earlier statements from Select Committee members and MED officials that the intent was to follow European law (even though this is not mentioned in the Commentary to the Patents Bill). The MED acknowledged that amendment is required to achieve this, and that the Minister supports finding a reasonable way forward on this point before proceeding with the Bill.

The meeting was attended by myself, as well as Peter Wren-Hilton from Pingar, Dougal Watt and Julie Motley from IBM, and Waldo Kuipers from Microsoft. There was an apology from Ed Robinson (Aptimize) though I verbally covered his concerns. From the MED, Rory McLeod (Director – Competition, Trade and Investment Branch) attended, as did Silke Radde and Warren Hassett who are responsible for overall IP policy and the Patents Bill respectively.

Rory McLeod began with an update on the Patents Bill clause 15(3A).

He described the decision of the Select Committee as being to move to a “normal patentable situation as in Europe”, that did not allow patenting of software per se.

Rory then went into some detail (partly in response to questions we had raised) about what the Select Committee intent was:
The intent had never been to ban software patents outright (and the MED would have serious concerns about that if it were proposed).
If it is patentable in the EU then it should be patentable in New Zealand.
Software should be treated like other technology, so should have a technical purpose and be an inventive step to be patentable, as in Europe.
Not just any software would be patentable, it would need to meet the above test.
Embedded or not embedded is or was not the distinction that is intended.
The signal that the Government wants to send is to follow European law and practice.


The MED also now clearly acknowledge that clause 15(3A) is not adequate to convey this intent. It was great being able to present practical examples of world leading software being developed by Pingar and Aptimize, and hear MED recognise the importance of these companies being able to seek patent protection.

The MED said they would adopt wording and concepts from the EPC to achieve this. The thinking was that something more than just adding “as such” is required for section 15 (3A) to adequately convey its intent. The task of drafting the provision would be left to the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office and MED were neutral on how it would look. When asked the MED said they would welcome NZICT Group input on what the wording should be, and our group will be working on developing this for submission. The MED noted that Hon Simon Power supports the intent of the Select Committee to adopt European law and practice, and recognises that a wording change will be needed to achieve this. The Minister is happy to then take the Bill forward on that basis.

The MED indicated they did not think the Patents Bill would come before Parliament for a month or two, and that the Minister does not intend to do more on this until there is a reasonable way forward. There was some enthusiasm to get the modernised law passed so that IPONZ could begin negotiating a common review and registration process for Australia and New Zealand with the Australian Patent Office.

Our approach will continue to be to work closely with MED until the redrafted bill has been sighted. We will also continue to socialise the issue with other stakeholders. Please confirm you are happy with this approach. I welcome any comments you may have.


Regards

Brett O’Riley
Chief Executive Officer | NZICT Group

M +64 21 02709021 | Skype: brett.oriley
E brett.oriley@ict.org.nz | W www.ict.org.nz
We represent the supply side of the New Zealand Information and Communications Technology
industry: Software, Hardware, Services, Networks, Education and Training.

However I strongly suspect this was removed from the website because it was premature, inaccurate or not inline with the National Party's planned spin on the issue. Too late though, leaked! But for the record take it with a grain of salt!

Again? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663122)

if computer users in New Zealand get active again.

How ofen do they have to disagree to have them? You often see that if some groups wants to push something, they will retry and retry and get elected away all the time. Then suddenly they win, basically because everybody is tired of playing their silly game.

Now if you want to reverse it, they say that that can not be done, because it is the law.

What will happen here is that it might be rejected again and then it just starts all over again.

It's getting out of hand. (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663160)

This whole blogging thing needs to be stopped.

Fash and chaps (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663340)

if computer users in New Zealand get active again

They're on holiday. Yes, I know what you're thinking - surely they can't both be away?

Re:Fash and chaps (1)

MortimerGraves (828374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32670546)

Hey! I'm at _my_ desk this morning... dunno where the other guy is. Slacker. :)

capitalism. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663668)

excuse me you oldtimers, but there is no other culprit here. as long as there is private capital, there will be stronger private capital (than the common citizens' own total) that will be able to use that capital to lobby for their own private interests, and impinge their own will and desire to all of the population. there can be no democracy, where there is such phenomenon.

Re:capitalism. (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665532)

So you are saying that Capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with Democracy? I would have to agree, however the alternatives don't work well either. Shall we say those with the money make the rules, and there is simply no way around it sadly? :(

Re:capitalism. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32666836)

yes i have come to that conclusion. in capitalism, there will always be minority groups with much more wealth (therefore power and influence) than the masses.

alternative is heavy social democracy. in which government, as a tool, controls the country and regulates it heavily. and taxes the wealthy to the extent that they cant amass huge wealth to lobby. works well in sweden, norway, denmark etc.

but tho, there may be a new alternative - direct democracy. a democracy in which everything is communally owned, and every kind of decision is taken by direct participation of the people. everything is operated through highly developed and efficient collaboration and decision mechanisms and automation. these have become possible only with the advent of internet.

Wrong question (2, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32664484)

'computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques.'

In US Patent Law, and in every PCT country in the world, there are three base questions for whether something can be patented (there are more, too, but these are the important ones):
1. is the technique already known? In other words, is it already existing?
2. is the technique obvious? In other words, is it trivial?
3. does the technique comprise patentable subject matter?

These are three completely independent questions, and that's what the quote gets wrong... It answers the third question with "all computer software should be excluded from patent protection", but only as a result of the first two questions "because they can be granted for trivial or existing techniques". That's not an issue with software - that's an issue with everything. Patents shouldn't be granted for machines, engines, chemical compounds, or anything else that is either trivial (obvious) or existing (known).

The point of the third question is, should a technique that is completely unknown to man and not at all obvious still not be patentable, because it's in the field of _____? For example, in the US, we consider laws of nature to be unpatentable, even if they're completely unknown and non-trivial.

So, when you talk about whether software should be patentable - whether it's merely an "abstract mathematical algorithm" performable by a Turing machine - the question is not whether patents get granted for trivial or existing methods... but whether a non-trivial, new method should still be unpatentable, solely because it's software.

Re:Wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32664618)

There is no market failure for software, and software only requires a pen and a paper to be implemented. The patent guys has never any justfication when it comes to demonstration that there is actually a market failure.

And prior art is a different issue then patentable subject matter.

Re:Wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32665656)

Yes, isn't it kind of revealing how there is no push to make law patentable? Patent lawyers and their paymasters work hard to make software engineers shackled to their rules, but they don't feel that innovation in legal work needs any similar protection. Why would anyone pay to work on new legal arguments if there is no protection for their investment? It's a silly question, but yet the patent lawyers use similar arguments all the time on other fields of intellectual endeavour.

I trust that this ammendment was... (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32665960)

voted on and passed?

Just like the terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32666958)

Gerry Adams, leader of the Provisional IRA, once said "we have to be right just once, you have to be right every time" (or words to that effect) regarding the use of bombs to promote their cause.

Hmmm, seems like the same here. They (MAFIAA etc) have to be right just once.

I am mad as hell and I'm not going to take it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32668226)

Wreck your software "industries", wiretap your people for the sake of American meda corps, go ahaid.
But stop pressuring everyone else to do the same when you become incompetitive and jelous of our freedoms.
You take money at the expense of your people's future, you weak souls.

No software patents in EU.
Revise copyright laws.
Discard ACTA.

Don't Panic Yet (2, Informative)

foxylad (950520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32673456)

I'm a Kiwi, made a submission to the select committee, and have just sent an email to Simon Power suggesting he tread carefully.

Before you all get too het up, I would emphasise that this is New Zealand. We have pretty transparent politics here, even to the level of releasing MP's expense claims (aside: we just had a great little storm in a teacup because one MP booked several porn movies to his hotel bill). Another really healthy thing about our tiny country is how directly you are connected to your representatives - you can usually pop in and have a chat face to face on Saturday mornings.

I remember when our motorways didn't have median barriers, and we kept getting horrendous head-head collisions. After one such, the government came out and said they couldn't afford median barriers at that time. The reaction was pretty obvious - how much is a human life worth? People phoned or visited their MP, and within a week the government had announced funding for median barriers. It's great to live in a country with a government that is small enough that you know you can affect them.

So I know my email will be read by someone who will talk directly to Mr. Power, if not by him. And assuming several other people do the same, he's going to realise he's stirred up a hornet's nest. Watch this space...

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