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Software Now Un-Patentable In New Zealand

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the make-up-your-mind-people dept.

Patents 221

A few weeks ago New Zealand Software decided to grant software patents. But now "Despite what appears to be a big-budget lobbying effort by the pro-patent fraternity, Hon Simon Power announced today that he wouldn't be modifying the proposed Patents Bill hence software will be un-patentable once the Bill passes into law. This is significant. As we've previously pointed out software patents aren't black and white, and there are certainly pros and cons. However on balance, we believe they represent a far greater risk to smaller NZ-based software providers than opportunity, and there are many cases where they have significantly stifled innovation. We believe it's near impossible for software to be developed without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents awarded around the world, hence many software companies in New Zealand, creating outstanding and innovative software, live a constant risk that their entire business will be wound up overnight due to litigious action by a patent holder. This has led to many a 'patent troll' company, primarily in the US. These are non-software companies who exist only to buy up old patents with the sole intention of suing innovative software companies for apparent breach of these patents. The effects of this have been chilling."

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Huzzah! (3, Insightful)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914068)

Hopefully this marks the beginning of more like-mindedness thinking in other countries.

There should be some ramifications to the ACTA kerfuffle, which is always welcome IMO.

Re:Huzzah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914094)

...I won't be holding my breath.

Re:Huzzah! (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914134)

Meanwhile in the US, the way has been paved for business method patents. Yay progress!

While I definitely think there are legitimate software patents, the decision to have none at all is probably better than the current insanity in the US.

Patents should be for truly innovative things, and no, adding "on a computer" to something that has already been invented is not innovative. Apparently our patent clerks cannot tell the difference when it comes to software.

Re:Huzzah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914226)

You are in breach of the business method patent on "thinking for yourself", which has been exclusively granted to Steve Jobs ("copying everyone else" was already granted to Bill Gates). Prepare for a team of Applawyers to come knock the innovativity out of you.

Re:Huzzah! (4, Funny)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914462)

Actually, he's violating Steve Jobs' entirely separate patent on "Thinking for yourself on a computer".

Re:Huzzah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915182)

And by end of this year, all non iphone cell users will be violating apple's latest patent on "holding the phone in a particular way detection software-hardware awesome feature".

Rationale (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915180)

While I definitely think there are legitimate software patents

Opinion is worth nothing without rationale.

Re:Huzzah! (3, Informative)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915488)

"Meanwhile"? Unless you've got a very broad definition of that word, I think I have to disagree. Business method patents came in with State Street [wikipedia.org] back in '98. And while this year's SC decision in Bilski [wikipedia.org] didn't go as far as many (including me) might have hoped, it did actually cut back quite a bit on what's patentable. See, for example, this Groklaw article [groklaw.net] on a post-Bilsk software patent rejection.

I think a better statement might be, "meanwhile, in the US, the way for business method patents has been only partially blocked."

Re:Huzzah! (5, Insightful)

cashdot (954651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915614)

Apparently our patent clerks cannot tell the difference when it comes to software

I was working as such a patent clerk (with focus on software) in Europe.

While it is easy to accept every software patent application (as in US) or reject all of them (as apparently now in New Zealand), it is very hard to find objective criteria to separate obvious things from truly innovative stuff.

The basic problem is, that in Software, there are usually very little unforeseen obstacles to overcome, when a concept is turned into actual code.

Lets say, state of the art is, that software A can do X, and software B can do Y.

Now somebody invents a software C that can do both, X and Y. Is this innovative? Usually not.

If we apply this example to the physical world, the situation is entirely different. A submarine can dive, and an aircraft can fly. Inventing a "machine" that can do both, would require a lot of innovation.

Now, a patentable idea has to be technically feasible. In the case of software, there is not much justification required, as every expert in the field knows, that it is in principle possible to combine X and Y. On the other hand, in the physical world, it requires much more than just an "idea" of a flying submarine to have a patentable innovation.

Therefore, it is very easy to apply for a patent for a software, that is unknown in the state of the art, while technically and economically feasible. In the physical world, this is much harder to achieve.

The problem is not, that the patent offices only have incompetent examiners. Rather, the definition of "patentable innovation" is not suitable for software.

Re:Huzzah! (3, Interesting)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915794)

A patent is there to encourage innovation by making it possible for inventors to profit, yes? Well why don't patents become invalid after a certain number of years if no product is released? Say, 2 years for software and 5 or 10 years for technology at the discretion of the patent office.

Re:Huzzah! (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915988)

"Meanwhile in the US, the way has been paved for business method patents."

You should take a look on the case on Blinsk, recently decided by your supreme court. Some time is needed to see how far that will affect software patents, but the tide has clearly changed.

Software Patents are... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914070)

Software Patents are stupid. Unless we are talking about my patent...

Re:Software Patents are... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915776)

Hanlon's law say that don't attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity. An "... unless you are talking about software patents" addendum is very much needed.

If you live and work in NZ, great (0, Flamebait)

jfoobaz (1844794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914088)

Unfortunately, other countries have different ideas on the matter. If the US changed the law so that that software wasn't patentable, that might have more of an effect on the world.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (1)

beschra (1424727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914104)

Yes. And this wouldn't help a NZ company if they sell outside NZ, correct?

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914168)

It could help/protect open source software since they only make source available. Now they don't have to worry about breaking the law (in NZ) in doing so. Will this lead to the U.S. blocking NZ sites?

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (2, Interesting)

columbus (444812) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915282)

This is what I was curious about.

How does this affect open source companies that are based in NZ, but distribute globally?

What if the Mozilla corporation moved its operations to New Zealand? Could it then incorporate the h264 codec into Firefox & release Firefox to whoever wished to use it? Would Mozilla be beyond the reach of MPEG-LA who hold the software patents on h264? Would MPEG-LA be able to sue users of Firefox outside of of NZ (note: I don't think they would do this).

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32916042)

IANAL, but as far as I understand it, yes. That would make the Mozilla corp out of the reach of MPEG-LA, but MPEG-LA would still be able to sue users of the product.

international effects (4, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915068)

> this wouldn't help a NZ company if they sell outside NZ, correct?

The NZ government only has decision making power in NZ. For where they have power, they've decided to make companies safe. What NZ is doing is great and should be applauded and helped. It's up to the US government to make companies safe in the US.

On the international level, this sends two messages to other countries: 1. Countries aren't obliged to do what the US says regarding patent policy; 2. Abolition of software patents is a reasonable choice for developed countries.

These messages contribute to saner patent policy in other countries in the future, even in the US.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32916104)

Wouldn't help, but wouldn't hurt either. If a corporation has (or intends to have) business in a country where software patents are permited, it must apply for the patents there, even if it holds pantents at home. Making software not patenteable in one country changes nothing at all.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (5, Funny)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914296)

Don't know if this is so great for NZ. If this decision hurts the US economy too much, there might be weapons of mass destruction be found in NZ.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914546)

given that some software, e.g. encryption, is already controlled by military export laws it is probably easy to define the software itself as a WMD

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (0, Flamebait)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914700)

Don't know if this is so great for NZ. If this decision hurts the US economy too much, there might be weapons of mass destruction not found in NZ.

FTFY, you'd "find" the same WMDs that were found in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I.e. the ones that the US brought to support its "liberation" of the NZ peoples from their oppressive regime.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915280)

Whoosh.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914714)

Well, NZ might be accused of having weapons of mass destruction.

However, it's been my experience that those weapons are never found.

You might get a joke out of the President [bbc.co.uk] about it though.

Re:If you live and work in NZ, great (1)

Julie188 (991243) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915054)

Instead of patent trolls, we'll send them patent Rambos. Julie188

There are pros and cons. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914100)

Sure. The pros oppose software patents, the cons support them.

Re:There are pros and cons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914984)

PRO is to CON as PROGRESS is to CONGRESS!
--Mark Twain

Not all patents should be disallowed (1, Insightful)

ergrthjuyt (1856764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914114)

Software patents need to get much more stringent, and the terms should be much shorter, but I think it would stifle innovation to disallow them altogether. There are some really innovative things happening all the time in software and they take money and time to research. Amazon's one-click checkout doesnt count.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (0, Redundant)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914404)

But the problem is that New Zealand cannot control most of these patents.
"This has led to many a 'patent troll' company, primarily in the US"
If they allowed some, then they could still face litigation and the small software companies would still have to defend themselves (and potentially still go out of business), even if it is likely to be denied because New Zealand would not accept the patent.

So they could accept some and probably have to spend a lot of money to figure out which ones are in this "some" and probably still have some trouble with businesses suffering unfairly and innovation being stifled.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (2, Interesting)

ergrthjuyt (1856764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915118)

I agree with you 100% - and it just goes to show that there is sometimes no amicable solution and someone has to lose out. I think a lot of people miss this very important point when considering intellectual property rights.

Overall, I think this news is a win for New Zealand. But that doesnt mean all the losers are patent trolls.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (2, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915146)

What could happen is that some company realizes that the only thing really holding them back is the competitive advantage amazon controls in it's one-click patent. If only they could implement one-click shopping they'd take the world by storm. So, they relocate to Auckland, set up shop and relaunch their website now with all the glory of one-click. When they make their first billion dollars, instead of paying $250 million in taxes to the US, now the kiwis get it.

Please let us know these "worthy" patents. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914496)

Please let us know these "worthy" patents.

Compression is application of maths (not patentable). In any case, without compression, digital effects on movies would be impossible. Sales of movies would be still on VHS or Laserdisk. No digital theatres to get us away from our Home Theatres. Therefore IN THE INTERESTS OF MAKING MONEY, the entertainment industry would have invested in digital compression.

Just like the BBC did: http://diracvideo.org/about-dirac/

Because the BBC had a need and that need was cheaper to fill with compression techniques made available, compression would have been paid for by the BBC. The patents however allow monopoly rent, so rather than pay the license fees, they made their own.

Think about that.

When you sell copies, most of the work is done in the original work. This is what your comment is saying too. Therefore that cost has to be amortised over the licensing costs. This would (or should) mean that the cost of licensing that product, each product sold should be much less than the cost of developing that product. But for the BBC, this was not the case. It was cheaper to do all that work themselves than pay the amortised cost that lots of other people are paying for. This MUST mean that the original developers of all the compression techniques have made their money back many-fold. Either that or the BBC was going to be their ONLY customer...

If such robber baron rates are possible, then patents were the only reason it was possible.

If patents made them possible, they were being abused.

Therefore, the compression patents are a MASSIVE drain on the economy.

Since they are only an economic incentive created by government fiat, they should be removed. Sucks for the owners, but they've already made multiple times the development cost already, so hardly sucks at all. And with less money spent on old rope, there's more to be spent in PRODUCTIVE activities.

Re:Please let us know these "worthy" patents. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914734)

This is like saying the Wright Brothers' airplane (probably patentable) was an application of a hammer, string, and nails (individually, not patentable).

You might want to check out the "fallacy" in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy

Ergrthjuyt is right - you deserve to reap the reward for your work, but definitely not forever. And certainly not for stupid crap (i.e. one click shopping).

As a software patent holder.. (0)

prakslash (681585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914744)

I am not sure ALL software patents should be disallowed.

Say I invest a large amount of time and money in inventing and testing an algorithm that very accurately recognizes faces in a picture or one that more efficiently routes gate connections inside a computer chip or one that produces better search results in a web search. I should be able to patent those algorithms and, hence, recover my investment by selling software based on those unique and novel algorithms.

Now before you mindlessly react by saying "Algorithms cannot be patented", read this [lawtechjournal.com] .

Re:As a software patent holder.. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915040)

You can sell the software just fine without patents. It'll take time for competitors to catch up and if you're constantly improving your software, instead of sitting on your ass, then you're always going to be ahead. In fact, the competition will motivate you to continue working on your algorithms and your clients will be better off.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (5, Informative)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914860)

There are some really innovative things happening all the time in software and they take money and time to research.

Same for Mathematics yet they're unpatentable *and* uncopyrightable. Yet innovation goes on.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (-1)

ergrthjuyt (1856764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915242)

Same for Mathematics yet they're unpatentable *and* uncopyrightable. Yet innovation goes on.

Mathematical principles are facts that are discovered, they are not analogous to software. If I patent a mathematical proof, it actively obstructs you from using it to further mathematics. I can patent my software and that does not prevent you from re-implementing it in a novel way.

I think you can appreciate that just because innovation *can* happen without patents is not necessarily evidence that they should be abolished.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915560)

Same for Mathematics yet they're unpatentable *and* uncopyrightable. Yet innovation goes on.

Mathematical principles are facts that are discovered, they are not analogous to software

You mean aside from the fact that all software is, provably, mathematics?

(Actually, there are exceptions in the case of hardware/software combinations, like motion control, but the point is that those aren't pure software. Pure software is always purely mathematical.)

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915410)

The USPTO started with the same blanket refusal to allow any kind of software patent; and unfortunately the same rationale denied copyright protection as well. While many developments were made by the "open source" predecessors of the time, like users' groups and academic publications, there was a serious problem of people taking credit - and payment - for other people's work. There was also a problem with good ideas being kept hidden as trade secrets, rather than raising the general level of knowledge, precisely because there was no middle ground between secrecy and giving everything away for free, and the companies that had paid for research and development wanted to recoup that investment before allowing publication.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed thoughtfully. Conditions of novelty and specific implementation, and short terms with required licensing, would be a start. It's shouldn't be all or nothing.

Re:Not all patents should be disallowed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915636)

The "being first to market with an innovative piece of software" provides the same advantage as a very short term patent and obviates the need for it.

New Zealand is looking to be a better (4, Insightful)

GilliamOS (1313019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914116)

place to live everyday. The took away farm subsidiaries and now they have four times the output. No more patenting ideas that you will never try to build and sell, only to sue some other poor soul who's trying to make his life better. Not to mention the climate of NZ looks quite appealing. Imagine where touch tech would be today if some dipshit in the 80's hadn't locked it up in patents? The touch tech of the movies could already be common place.

Re:New Zealand is looking to be a better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914604)

Every 3 decades or so they seem go through a small government revolution and basically completely reinvent the government. There is a really interesting article at http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2004&month=04 [hillsdale.edu] , one point of note is that when they cute taxes in half they actually saw a rise in revenue of nearly 20% as it was easier for people to understand and there was less avoidance.

Re:New Zealand is looking to be a better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914864)

WTF is a "farm subsidiary"? Farms were starting or buying independently operated sub-farms? Or did you mean "farm subsidies"?

Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boom! (5, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914126)

If the New Zealand government manages to get the bill enacted without bowing to pressure from foreign patent trolls, then New Zealand will be a safe habour for genuine software firms wanting to get on with developing software. If the New Zealand Software Industry now booms, hopefully other regulators will take note.

Historians will look back and see patent trolling as one of those mad schemes of the first decade of the 21st Century, alongside subprime mortgages, leveraged investment vehicles and so on.

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914278)

NZ may become a safe haven for innovative Linux distros.

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914388)

Doubt you'll see large companies spring up, since exporting software would still require the software to respect laws in the the countries that the software was sold in.

That being said, for someone that likes to work on computers and write programs, retiring to somewhere that guarantees that you will not be living in fear of being sued for accidentally publishing something that someone has a patent on would be nice.

Heck, doesn't matter if you actually did step on someone's patent or not. As a retiree I don't see how I could afford to fight any patent infringement suit whether or not I was infringing. I have no desire to forfeit my retirement income which is needed to actually feed cloth and house me all because someone wants to control something I thought of.

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914554)

Too bad New Zealand doesn't allow immigration of retirees but only of active, skilled workers.

Software Patents are anti-competitive (3, Interesting)

Marcion (876801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915092)

exporting software would still require the software to respect laws in the the countries that the software was sold in.

I have long thought about this. I live in the EU, and the software patents are not valid (but they sometimes grant them anyway). I would make an unfair competition law to prevent foreign governments using their patent systems to stymie EU-based software firms.

The way it would work is as follows, an EU firm creates a program and sells or gives it away in the US (or other country with nonsense software patent systems). A US company sues for patent infringement damages in US court. The EU company pays but takes the receipt back to the EU.

The EU software firm then hands the receipt to the European Commission who then sues the US company under my new unfair-competition law. The European Commission recovers the damages back and hands them back to the EU software firm. The European Commission charges punitive damages above the initial amount which it pockets itself to cover its own costs (or even make a profit).

The European Commission could make the process so easy that the EU-based software firm just carries on with making software and competing on the merits of the software.

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914482)

Hope you are right, but what are the conditions to register and operate a software firm in NZ as a foreigner?

This is Short lived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915030)

The WTO will make sure NZ pays for their defiance! Lets just see how long they can fend off the economic attacks...

Re:This is Short lived (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915132)

Well that is a real threat. The solution of course is to bin the WTO, and all the crazy US laws it dumps on everyone (software patents, anti-filesharing, private health care, etc).

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915232)

one of those mad schemes of the first decade of the 21st Century, alongside subprime mortgages, leveraged investment vehicles and so on.

I have a few more:

  • representatives leading something

    •    
    • democracy trough a administration (made from humans)
    •    

    • communism trough a interim government (made from humans)
  • government protection for diseases, instead of healing them

    •    
    • “religion”

      •        
      • making a taboo out of everything relating sex and nudity
      •        

      • psycho mob organizations abusing people trough social engineering (churches)
      •    

    •    

    • sacrificing one’s like for the interests of others
  • calling nearly pure preparations (like sugar) “food”
  • calling processed-to-death (or worse: processed to a state where the body thinks it’s usable, but it’s really defective, like heated milk) stuff “food”
  • the concept of “interest [finan.]”
  • the idea that you could own something imaginary (like an idea).

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915796)

Sorry for the layout catastrophe. Apparently Slashdot FAILs at <ul>s inside <li>s inside <ul>s, which is should accept, according to HTML (any version).

Re:Now watch the New Zealand Software Industry boo (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32916134)

Slashdot fails at an amazing list* of basic HTML capabilities. We're used to it.

At least we don't have to suffer from page-widening [wikipedia.org] any more.

------------------
*Which I can't include in this post, since proper handling of <ol> and <ul> is among that list, as you've described.

QT licence (3, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914132)

remember the clause in the Q Public Licence that says "if you want to initiate legal procedings, you have to do it in a Norwegian court", well I have an amendment for the other OSS licences :)

Re:QT licence (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914774)

As far as I understand, generally it is possible for a court to apply foreign laws, particular in these quasi-contractual licenses. In more technical terms, the choice of law and where jurisdiction lies are different issues. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_laws [wikipedia.org]

IANAL.

Re:QT licence (1)

imamac (1083405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915440)

Some courts seem to think that. They are wrong. Courts are there for our laws, not anyone else's. I forget which SCJ mentioned looking to other countries to decide if something was constitutional or not, but it happened. That's just sad.

Re:QT licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32916164)

So your point is that the licence should specify both the country in which proceedings must be take place and the country's laws which should be applied?

One important caveat (5, Informative)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914138)

Some news sources over the Internet state that according to the proposed law inventions for software destined for embedded systems will remain patentable, which IMO doesn't sound/look good since it opens a loophole for dirty manoeuvres.

Hopefully other countries will follow (5, Insightful)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914146)

It won't matter if the USA doesn't do the same if every other country follows this change.

Re:Hopefully other countries will follow (-1, Offtopic)

codeguy007 (179016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914244)

Huh? Are you saying even if every other country bans software patents sans the USA that it won't matter? You are obviously American. The US does not have that much control buddy.

Re:Hopefully other countries will follow (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914440)

He's saying quite the opposite. He's saying what the US does or doesn't do won't matter if all the other countries develop some form of sanity.

Which, of course, won't happen, so he makes his point with a VERY hypothetical "what if..." scenario.

Re:Hopefully other countries will follow (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914692)

Quite the contrary, I'm sure. We Americans (well, most of us) realize that our government has as much control over the world as we ourselves have over our government.

Re:Hopefully other countries will follow (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914902)

I believe he meant to say "as long as everybody else bans software patents, it won't matter if the US keeps them" which would be the entire opposite of your interpretation. Though I understand why you read it that way, the GP's post could've been phrased better.

OpenOffice NZ version (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914164)

Can we now expect the OpenOffice New Zealand version to basically "be" microsoft office, since software patents won't work there? How about a linux or other OS that is 100% Windows compatible? Do you really think M$ will let this fly, once stuff like this starts hitting torrents, etc. from New Zealand?

Re:OpenOffice NZ version (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914832)

Can we now expect the OpenOffice New Zealand version to basically "be" microsoft office, since software patents won't work there?

Well, there's two factors here: Patents and Copyright. Patents are more general than copyright, generally speaking.

Get OpenOffice or other software too close to 'Microsoft Office' and you'll likely be treading into copyright violation zone. Copyright also lasts a lot longer than patents.

How about a linux or other OS that is 100% Windows compatible? Do you really think M$ will let this fly, once stuff like this starts hitting torrents, etc. from New Zealand?

Would be possible, not much microsoft could do without breaking compatibility in other ways. You'd still have to be careful of copyright. Political lobbying would still probably be used though.

You probably wouldn't need the full 'cleanroom' reverse engineering that was done with BIOS back in the day. You had one team disassembling the sytem, writing up it's behavior and technical specifications, and another team making a ROM that met the specifications, never having looked at the original ROM.

Re:OpenOffice NZ version (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915088)

Get OpenOffice or other software too close to 'Microsoft Office' and you'll likely be treading into copyright violation zone.

I can only speak from the point of view of the U.S., but that's completely wrong. No matter how much functionality you duplicate, unless you actually copy the code from Microsoft Office (i.e. you don't write it yourself), there is no copyright violation.

"there are certainly pros and cons"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914248)

"there are certainly pros and cons"? When did the pro's arrive? As patents currently are allowed to happen, THERE ARE NO PROS.

The ONLY "pro" would occur only if the software was included in the patent application (and could not be copyrighted, since it's patented). But if anyone can tell me where that happens, please let me know!

I for one welcome our new Kiwi overloards. (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914252)

NZ is becoming a new magnet for film making and now software houses have a huge incentive to move there. THIS is how you build an economy.

Immigration (3, Interesting)

Lando (9348) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914298)

Anyone know what the immigration laws are for NZ? I'm real tired of having to worry about getting sued for the software I work on.

Any other issues with NZ law? They aren't trying to filter the internet or anything are they?

Re:Immigration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914648)

Actually they are please see
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/03/12/0722225/A-Sad-Day-For-the-New-Zealand-Internet :(

They seem to take two steps forward and one step back. But at least they movin forward.

Re:Immigration (4, Informative)

SiaFhir (686401) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914806)

Everything you need to know about migrating to NZ is here [immigration.govt.nz] .

Re:Immigration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915732)

This might be a plus too?

http://www.thinair.net.nz/page.php?48

Black and White (0, Flamebait)

Meneth (872868) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914300)

As we've previously pointed out software patents aren't black and white, and there are certainly pros and cons.

Citation needed. AFAIK, software patents are all black, no pros. Except possibly for patent lawyers, but those shouldn't exist anyway.

Re:Black and White (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915338)

Most patent lawyers are white, but typically wear black hats...

Huge outbreak of common sense (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914378)

it is huge, because this Simon Power person apparently knows everything and understands everything as it is. not one bit more, not one bit less. he basically precisely identified the issue in most bare and sharpest form. this was unprecedented, among politicians. hopefully more will follow.

Oh yes (1)

BudAaron (1231468) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914400)

I think patents are great - for physical things. I think software patents are stupid in the extreme. I hope this starts happening around the world!!!

The World's Software Companies Will Now Leave U.S. (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914444)

And watch as the world's software companies incorporate in NZ, and hence leave the U.S. out of its taxes. If they're smart, that is.

Slashdotters can have a huge argument until they're blue in the face. I say, don't bother arguing. Just give the business to people who want it.

Re:The World's Software Companies Will Now Leave U (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914504)

Forgot to add:

Maybe the U.S. will then start some patent reform if they see millions leaving its tax coffers. Hurt them in the pocketbook, and people change *real* quick.

Re:The World's Software Companies Will Now Leave U (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914742)

Maybe the U.S. will then start some patent reform if they see millions leaving its tax coffers. Hurt them in the pocketbook, and people change *real* quick.

No, they'll issue a "special watch" or some such against New Zealand as a place without adequate protection for intellectual property.

They'll apply diplomatic and economic pressure. They'll try to hit the bottom line of NZ companies by applying tariffs or banning the import of software from there.

They will not simply accept that NZ has the right to disallow software patents. The US is far too dependent on its vision of "Intellectual Property" to not push back against this. I'm sure they'll beat them with the ACTA stick and whatever else they can get.

I applaud the New Zealand government for taking this stance. But, I'm skeptical that it is over even if this law passes. The corporate interests will not be silenced, and the US is entirely going to champion the cause of corporate interests.

Re:The World's Software Companies Will Now Leave U (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914962)

What would prevent patent trolls from eyeballing developments in NZ, and patenting them in the US? Even if their patents get overturned in court, they would still be forcing a company to unnecessarily defend their IP in order to do business here.

This isn't over at all (5, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914468)

The most important point is that this isn't over. The Bill isn't even written yet, nor are the patent office guidelines. Background info:

Re:This isn't over at all (2, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914808)

If I didn't forget to write the link text, the first link whould have been:

That's a general page of background for the situation, more important than the other three links :-)

Re:This isn't over at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915044)

    The most important point is that this isn't over. The Bill isn't even written yet, nor are the patent office guidelines.

The most important point is that it'll *never* be over -- as long as one side has money and continues lobbying and the other side doesn't, it's almost inevitable that the changes they want will happen sooner or later.

Of course this applies to all areas of life; any kind of issue where the people in favour of change care deeply enough to continue lobbying for as long as it takes. The change is almost certain to happen eventually, regardless of whether the result is good for society or not.

This is why society needs to make active efforts to retain their liberties. Just because you like the way things are doesn't mean you shouldn't be actively involved politically to keep it that way.

Geek Migration!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914502)

Count me in...beautiful scenery, hot women (think 3-way with Gabrelle and Xena), no software patent bullshit to worry about, and far enough away from US fearmongering politics...

Migration time... (1)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914506)

No software patents, beautiful country, and I've heard the scuba diving and beer are good. Time to move....

So... (1)

DdJ (10790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914524)

So companies in NZ will be producing algorithms that in the rest of the world would be patentable, but will just let anyone use them for any purpose with no regard or no compensation?

It may become a haven for patent trollops!

Re:So... (1)

Natanael_L (1282420) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915576)

Bad trolling attempt. Oh, so anybody can write a Harry Potter parody? OH NOEZ, nobody will buy the real books anymoarz! JK Rowlings will be POOR! Nobody will have any incentive to write books! Copyright still apply. If the author choose a license that don't let you take the software binaries and decompile them, you're not allowed. You are still allowed to write something that mimics it, but that means you have to do real work yourself. Just like how you can write a parody book or use as many plot ideas as you wish from any book you wish, and still not get sued. Would you have liked literature patents? "Oh, but my plot twist is unique! I should have exclusivity on it!" Algorithms, matematics and plot twists should be equally unpatentable. Just think about free software such as Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox and the like.

Re:So... (1)

DdJ (10790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915698)

Someone has never read the Bob Asprin "Myth" books, eh?

Holy Crap! (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32914620)

Did we actually win one?

New Zealand 1 vs. 0 Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32914674)

And -1 US. 8-P

Im somewhat torn abuot this whole subject (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915066)

One should be able to protect yourself if you create something new. True, the entire patent sturcture has been abused, but there needs to be something. ( and i don't think copyright is it either )

good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32915096)

This has good points and bad points. On the one hand some dumbass here in the US tried to patent a nested for loop, so the good point is this moron won't even be heard from. the bad point is that someone could essentially take an entire piece of software, make it look a bit different and sell it as a competitor product. Oh well, I like open source anyway...

Let's Harmonize (2, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915176)

If this happens for real, the rest of the world should harmonize [google.com] to NZ standards. Right politicians and lawyers, harmonization is important, isn't it?

I'm a little disappointed (2, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915278)

but not at all surprised that the argument against software patents in NZ didn't came down to "they're bad, often abused, and stifle competition" but instead to "they're bad for New Zealand".

It's a principled stand, where the principle is "what's good for us is good."

Nations, like people, are guided by "enlightened self-interest", I guess. (As a citizen of the USA, I'll admit to being quite familiar with the concept.)

NZ case law (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915294)

Too bad — I was looking forward to re Bilskiwi.

Small global effect (1)

GlobalEcho (26240) | more than 4 years ago | (#32915788)

The global effect of a single country rejecting software patents is much less than, say, the effect of allowing decryption and reverse engineering tools a la DVDCSS.

New Zealand authors and users will be safe from lawsuits, but users who download and use code in countries where the patents apply remain vulnerable to lawsuits, despite not being the authors.

That doesn't seem to be the right article (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32916174)

"Despite what appears to be a big-budget lobbying effort by the pro-patent fraternity, Hon Simon Power announced today that he wouldn't be modifying the proposed Patents Bill hence software will be un-patentable once the Bill passes into law.

Follow the link in the summary and you get:

It's official: Software will be unpatentable in NZ

Despite what appears to be a big-budget lobbying effort by the pro-patent fraternity, Hon Simon Power announced today [beehive.govt.nz] that he wouldn't be modifying the proposed Patents Bill hence software will be unpatentable once the Bill passes into law.

And follow that link, and you get:

Simon Power 15 JULY, 2010 Minister announces way forward for software patents Commerce Minister Simon Power has instructed the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) to develop guidelines to allow inventions that contain embedded software to be patented.

So, seems to be the opposite of what the summary claims.

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