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New Zealand Set To Prohibit Software Patents

timothy posted about a year ago | from the panic-in-the-streets dept.

Software 90

Drishmung writes "The New Zealand Commerce Minister Craig Foss today (9 May 2013) announced a significant change to the Patents Bill currently before parliament, replacing the earlier amendment with far clearer law and re-affirming that software really will be unpatentable in New Zealand. An article on the Institute of IT Professionals web site by IT Lawyer Guy Burgess looks at the the bill and what it means, with reference to the law in other parts of the world such as the USA, Europe and Britain (which is slightly different from the EU situation)."

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FOSS? (5, Funny)

Dantoo (176555) | about a year ago | (#43673631)

The guys name is FOSS! Sorry it's late. Hehehe.

Re:FOSS? (4, Funny)

shikaisi (1816846) | about a year ago | (#43674517)

Hey, if one guy in New Zealand can call himself Kim Dotcom, what's wrong with the Commerce Minister calling himself Craig Foss? I understand that other members of the NZ government are already planning to change their names to Nathan Gnu, Nikki KayeDE, Hekia Pirate and that the Prime Minister will in future use his middle name in official business so that he will be called John Control Key.

Re:FOSS? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43677059)

Next up, Larry Ellison will change his last name to "Vader".

Ttitle is misleading (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673669)

New Zealand is only going to (try harder to) prohibit vague software patents. The language is still there to patent software.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (5, Informative)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | about a year ago | (#43673751)

New Zealand is only going to (try harder to) prohibit vague software patents. The language is still there to patent software.

Not only that, but this hasn't made it into law yet. Expect to see intense lobbying by (mostly) US business interests to get this provision spiked before the law becomes final. It's happened before with other law changes for which the initial drafts seemed reasonable, e.g. in the field of copyright.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43673831)

Not only that, but this hasn't made it into law yet. Expect to see intense lobbying by (mostly) US business interests

Actually, I'd expect the US government to become heavily involved in this. They've been pushing copyright and IP laws on trading partners via treaties under threat of sanctions.

I just can't see the US government standing by quietly since the US has increasingly set themselves up to be an economy based on such things, and they've been using their clout to force everyone else to entrench laws to protect it.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674461)

And I bet Barack "Lucifer" Obama will trump up a reason to invade New Zealand and crush them under the hobnailed boot of corporate servitude! This will never be left to stand!

ERMAGHERD, PERTENTS ER EVUL! KERL DER MEREEEENS!

Re:Ttitle is misleading (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43674801)

Actually, I'd expect the US government to become heavily involved in this. They've been pushing copyright and IP laws on trading partners via treaties under threat of sanctions.

Yes, but the New Zealandese have already anticipated US the US moves by declaring a nuclear-weapons-free zone in and around NZ ages ago.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43674945)

Ah, yes, one of the few governments who might be willing to tell the us to PFO. Cool.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43677971)

If I learned anything from 2003, it's that if you make the claim you have no WMDs, the US government knows you have WMDs.
A nuclear-weapons-free zone sounds just like something you would say if you had nuclear weapons.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (1)

Kalriath (849904) | about a year ago | (#43680409)

No, it means it's illegal for anyone to have nuclear powered ships or weapons in our waters. That's why we don't get invited to US Military parties.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43676815)

Yes, we must have strict and harmonized copyright and patent laws around the world, otherwise everyone will simply stop producing content and things because they don't have complete control over 'their' content/thing until the end of it's predetermined lifespan.

And naturally, these laws must be harmonized around the world based on the law from any individual country which gives the copyright/patent holder the most rights. And then whatever large multinational corporations want.

Re:Ttitle is misleading (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43677561)

And naturally, these laws must be harmonized around the world based on the law from any individual country which gives the copyright/patent holder the most rights

Actually, when they've been foisting it onto other countries through threat of trade action, it's more like arm-twist another country into doing what the multinationals want, and then say domestic laws are out of step with the world and get them passed in the US.

But, make no mistake about it, the US diplomatic stuff for issues like this is driven by industry. So much so that countries have basically said they don't recognize the Special 301 reports [wikipedia.org] because it's written by industry (yet becomes diplomatic policy).

For instance: [techdirt.com]

Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It's driven entirely by U.S. industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our U.S. counterparts.

About time! (5, Insightful)

Transfinite (1684592) | about a year ago | (#43673671)

Let's hope the rest of the world will see sense and follow soon.

Makes sense (3, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#43673709)

Recently a colleague ( also a software engineer ) told me about his trip to New Zealand. He was so impressed by the NZ levelheadedness - which might be, he mused, something close to a national characteristic - that he now considers moving there....

Re:Makes sense (4, Informative)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#43673753)

OTOH, from wikipedia:

Anti-intellectualism
Unlike many European countries, New Zealanders do not have a particularly high regard for intellectual activity, particularly if it is more theoretical than practical. This is linked with the idea of 'kiwi ingenuity', which supposes that all problems are better solved by seeing what works than by applying a theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_New_Zealand#Anti-intellectualism [wikipedia.org]

Re:Makes sense (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43674213)

On the third hand, in theory theory and practice are identical, while in practice they aren't. Those kiwis might be on to something there.

That's a different sort of anti-intellectualism than, say, active policy efforts in the United States to try to prevent kids from ever encountering scientifically proven ideas.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#43674905)

>> "On the third hand..."

Impressive. I see you're an early adopter on the anti-intellectual movement.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year ago | (#43675765)

Or maybe he's a 3+-armed alien, you insensitive clod. :)

(It is clear that he's not familiar with the common geek saying, "on the gripping hand [catb.org] ", though.)

Re:Makes sense (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43677413)

I thank you for factoring in us Jatravartids from Viltvodle VI.

Re:Makes sense (1)

psionski (1272720) | about a year ago | (#43674255)

A major break with this tradition came in the 1980s when the fourth Labour and fourth National governments enacted a series of reforms based on free market ideology. This reinforced many New Zealanders' distrust of intellectual theory, as many consider that the reforms increased poverty and inequality in New Zealand.

They're just scared of what's happening to the other "intellectual" nations, that's all.

Re:Makes sense (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674647)

The wikipedia entry is a troll. A more accurate interpretation of it is that people who are full of themselves are especially shunned, and those who skip the self promotion and just get on and do it are idolized. Kiwis have nothing against intellectuals, only those that go around telling everyone one else how dumb they are, but that sort of stuffed shirt person isn't held in high regard anywhere. There is also a deep suspision of those that wear ties, but that doesn't make the country anti-business, just anti-used car salesman.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43681231)

So... what you're saying is that NZ isn't anti-intellectual or anti-business, it's just anti-businessman and anti-smart-guy?

I was going to say that NZ doesn't feel today as anti-intellectual as it did, say, 20 years ago, but you're doing a pretty good job of supporting that Wikipedia entry's point.

No, really. Your attitude there is the exact attitude that others describe as "anti-intellectualism". You can be as smart as you like, but oh, you'd better be fucking humble about it. Don't you dare say anything smart that makes me feel dumb. Shirts & ties are for wankers. Oh, what are you going to do? Cry? Leave the country? Oh.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_drain#New_Zealand

I still think NZ is less anti-intellectual now than it used to be, but that's because the problem actually gets some publicity, and we get to say "shh, you're being part of the problem" without getting our glasses knocked off our faces.

Re:Makes sense (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43674831)

which supposes that all problems are better solved by seeing what works than by applying a theory

How exactly is "seeing what works" supposed to differ from the scientific method?

Re:Makes sense (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#43678033)

which supposes that all problems are better solved by seeing what works than by applying a theory

How exactly is "seeing what works" supposed to differ from the scientific method?

Less funding.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about a year ago | (#43682489)

It is subjective. The scientific method requires one to not only see what works, but demonstrate objectively to others that it works. Ingenuity, as mentioned above, only requires you to find what works for yourself and implement that. They are similar but one involves far less documentation and the testing is less rigorous.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43675621)

That wiki article seems as if it were written by some idiot college kid propagating their own bigotry.

There is no real difference tween "seeing what works" and "applying a theory" - unless of course one wants to take the stand that a theory is the result of seeing which hypothesis works.

In other words... they're stupid and ashamed of it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43675637)

This is typical inferiority complex behavior. When one is stupid and one knows it, but one one hates that fact and feels bad about it, a typical psychological behavior is to project that self-hatred to others. Here they hate those who aren't stupid as fuck because they are factually superior, and would like to drag them down instead of, you know, switching their brains on for once in their shitty lives.

This can be seen a lot in the USA too. Or anywhere where it's full of morons.

Re:In other words... they're stupid and ashamed of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43681973)

Yeah yeah, nah.
That's not it bro, that's not us.
We just don't like show-offs eh.

E.g.:

A: Wow, that was awesome, you were great!
B: Yeah I was pretty amazing eh?
A: Don't get up yerself bro, it wasn't that flash...

I.e. you are supposed to be humble and self-deprecating, and mean it.

It's kind of a blend of pioneer spirit + maoritanga that is fading in the face of relentless heartless capitalism...

And we're not stupid...

Re:Makes sense (1)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about a year ago | (#43681477)

Well that's a load of crap. There is a degree of anti-intellectualism in N.Z, but it's nothing to do with Kiwi ingenuity.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43682673)

Wikipedia itself is anti-intellectual - articles reflect who exerts the most influence on them, which in my experience is the most obsessed, Machiavellian and obnoxious of individuals who happen to take an interest in a particular page. Anybody who has edited Wikipedia will know what I'm talking about.

Re:Makes sense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674969)

Recently a colleague ( also a software engineer ) told me about his trip to New Zealand. He was so impressed by the NZ levelheadedness - which might be, he mused, something close to a national characteristic - that he now considers moving there....

Excuse me? levelheadedness? if that's even a word. Sir, you're talking about the Sheep Fucking Capital of the world here.

Your friend might of been taken by how nice NZ'ers are but that's because a) NZ'ers have no real money so sucking up to tourists is a good way to snag an "off the books" bonus without offsetting their weekly welfare payments b) NZ'ers most likely mistook your friend for a Sheep! I know those software engineers have a tendency of growing long bushy beards, so I feel that you shouldn't make such brash accusations without fully knowing all the facts.

Consider this, your friend could of been robbed and molested! I'd say he should thank his lucky stars he wasn't!

* Footnote - If you're from the US (so is your friend) and your surprised from another countries' "levelheadedness", then I have news for you. Everywhere in the world is significantly more level headed than anything you've ever been exposed to. Why? Because you live in A-M-E-R-I-C-A ...

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43681975)

That wasn't a very level-headed reply...

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43682751)

Eh, Ozzies, we're used to it.

software no, genes yes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673721)

I don't understand!

How can software - which is an invention - not be patentable, yet genes - which occur naturally - are?

Re:software no, genes yes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673761)

Well, I don't support gene patents, but the reasoning is this:
- genes, which occur naturally are not, in fact, patentable;
- an *isolated* gene, on the other hand, is patentable.

Ie., you can't get a patent which would cover a gene occurring in its natural state, but you can get a patent covering the gene isolated in a vial.

The invention, so they say, lies in isolating the gene.

Software is nothing but mathematics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43677731)

As all software is run on a mathematical algorithm implemented in a hardware approximation of boolean algebra.

mod dow@1n (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673723)

survey which go find something 4bout half of the

Geopeeves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673763)

Britain is part of Europe.
Britian != United Kingdom. Patent related legislation applied to the UK, not Britain, at this time.

More geopeeves (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673851)

"Britain" generally refers to the island of Great Britain in the British Isles, or the British Isles in general. The British Isles is a cluster of islands near Europe, not part of it. The United Kingdom is a set of British countries who share the same monarch. The UK is currently part of the European Union.

Re:More geopeeves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43675231)

The UK is part of the EU, to some extent.... the UK has not adopted the Euro as its currency (good for them, btw), the UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement (which forces me to get a visa to travel to the UK, but not (the rest of) Europe).

Also, "UK" is short for "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".... so, yeah, "Britain" is part of the UK.

For some reason when I meet people that thay they're british, I ask if they're scottish (at times I ask if welsch instead), it seems to annoy some of them and then they clear up that they're english.

I find this "country within a country" concept fascinating.

Re:More geopeeves (1)

matfud (464184) | about a year ago | (#43677997)

Just to clear that up.
England, Northan Ireland and Scotland are countries. Wales is not. Wales is a Principality. The Isle of Mann and the channel Isles are I think protectorates. They are all part of the the UK. The falklands and caymans et. al are crown colonies. Jamaica, Canada, Australia, and many more (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_realm) became part of the commonwealth. Hence they still have a queen and still have the union flag as part of thier own
   

Re:Geopeeves (1)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#43675565)

We still don't have software patents though, whatever we're called.

Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43673889)

http://birds-are-nice.me/programming/asfview.shtml [birds-are-nice.me]

Little something I wrote years ago that reads an ASF file (Or WMA, or WMV) headers and decodes them all into a human-readable dump. Handy thing if you work with media in those formats.

Unless you're in the US. Can't use it there. That format is the subject of a patent. So I'm just going to sit here in the UK and look smug. If I were in the US, I wouldn't have been able to make that. The author of virtualdub is though, so he had to strip ASF-reading functionality out of his software when Microsoft threatened to sue.

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (0)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about a year ago | (#43674365)

and we care about ASF like we care about WMA...don't need it...move on in life.

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43674859)

It's an old program. ASF was still in very common use when I wrote it.

ASF, WMA and WMV are actually the same format. The extension difference is only for convenience, to tell which ones have video in.

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year ago | (#43674387)

Anyone in the US could use Microsoft Windows Media ASF Viewer [microsoft.com] .

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43674897)

I've never tried it. I gather it does much the same thing with a snazier interface - but it didn't exist when I wrote ASFView. I wrote it a long time ago, back when I was just learning C around the time I started university. Microsoft's utility wasn't released until some time later. I only gave the program as an example of something I couldn't have created with software patents in effect.

Besides, 'Windows Media ASF Viewer 9 Series' is a Windows-only utility. I should probably update the page to reference it though - judging by my webserver logs, there are a few people coming who might be searching for that on google and ending up at my site instead.

There's this little trust problem with microsoft.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674829)

And human-readable dumps are really nice when you want to know what's going on....

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43675421)

If I were in the US, I wouldn't have been able to make that.

IANAL, but from what I understand about patents, you would have been able to make that, you just wouldn't have been able to distribute it. You can make your own implementations of patented algorithms and the like so long as they're strictly for your own personal use.

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#43678071)

http://birds-are-nice.me/programming/asfview.shtml [birds-are-nice.me]

Little something I wrote years ago that reads an ASF file (Or WMA, or WMV) headers and decodes them all into a human-readable dump. Handy thing if you work with media in those formats.

Unless you're in the US. Can't use it there. That format is the subject of a patent. So I'm just going to sit here in the UK and look smug. If I were in the US, I wouldn't have been able to make that. The author of virtualdub is though, so he had to strip ASF-reading functionality out of his software when Microsoft threatened to sue.

http://www.afterdawn.com/software/audio_video/video_editing/virtualdub_1_3c.cfm [afterdawn.com]

A Version of Virtualdub that works with asf. sorry to link you to afterdawn, the site blows thanks to dvdbackup23

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43678707)

The last one, yes. After the release of 1.3C, the author received a phone call from Microsoft's legal department. According to the announcement he made it all went very politely: They asserted their patent and request he ceased distributing the software, and he agreed to remove the ASF reading capability from all subsequent versions and cease distributing the versions that did have the capability. That's why you had to get it from afterdawn.

Re:Enjoy this program - unless you're American. (1)

Kirth (183) | about a year ago | (#43682641)

Unless you're in the US. Can't use it there. That format is the subject of a patent.

Yes, but that patent was granted illegally. Every software patent, actually, because the US Patent Law states that mathematics can't be patented. So I wouldn't be worried to violate something that's illegal per se.

What I can't figure out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43673923)

If the earth is round, then why don't folks in New Zealand and Austrailia fall off into outer space? Maybe they're so busy keeping a grip down there that they don't have time to file for patents.

Re:What I can't figure out (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43677113)

So, how is the pay at your Kansas textbook authoring job?

These NZ-ers have gone bonkers! (1)

PerlPunk (548551) | about a year ago | (#43674047)

'Nuf said.

Re:These NZ-ers have gone bonkers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674281)

you're an idiot.

worse, you're an ignorant idiot.

Re:These NZ-ers have gone bonkers! (1)

PerlPunk (548551) | about a year ago | (#43676193)

You're an Anonymous Coward!

Relationship with TPP? (4, Interesting)

gwolf (26339) | about a year ago | (#43674067)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, to which New Zealand is a signatory, is set to mandate (among many trade "enabling" issues) a strong set of intellectual property rights homologation between involved countries. We are worried (being "we" Mexicans, where software patents are strictly and explicitly off the law) that TPP pushes for software patents.
Does anybody have an insight on what will this mean for this issue in NZ? It is *very* naïve to suppose that, as most TPP-signing countries don't recognize software patents, they will be stopped at the other signatories. Extremely naïve.

Re:Relationship with TPP? (1)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#43675121)

Yes, it's very naÃve. About as naÃve as me reading the linked article then closing the window and expecting to be able to reload it at will. Slashdotted now. But IIRC the reason for some of the complication of the language was because they were afraid that treaty would be used in exactly the opposite direction.

Re:Relationship with TPP? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43681661)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, to which New Zealand is a signatory, is set to mandate (among many trade "enabling" issues) a strong set of intellectual property rights homologation between involved countries.

Software is already strongly protected by copyright, hence removing software patents should not cause concerns, should it?

Re:Relationship with TPP? (1)

gwolf (26339) | about a year ago | (#43682129)

It is strong, for me and for you. But patents provide a far stronger protection. Nobody can independently implement the given idea even if sharing no code in common with yours.

Re:Relationship with TPP? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43691441)

Sure, but once the treaty is signed, if there is no judicial body to settle interpretation issues, sovereign nations are left able to interpret ambiguous sentences however they want. If the treaty requires strong protection but not explicitely requires software patent, then I see no obligation to add patents to copyright.

Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Software (4, Insightful)

guitardood (934630) | about a year ago | (#43674089)

Software algorithms, especially as most programmers were taught from the same basics, can be very ubiquitous. While I think coding implementation of an alogrithm can be unique and should be copyrightable, granting patents on the algorithm is a very flawed and growth inhibiting concept. It's nice to see ANY lawmaker realizing this and trying to correct this egregious error that, IMHO, has gimped software development for the last 20 years. I wonder when the laws in the U.S. will catch up with this way of thinking and put an end to all the freaking patent trolls.

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

kbdd (823155) | about a year ago | (#43674451)

How about DNA? How about the thought that somebody could patent my own DNA and there is nothing I can do about it? Revolting.

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about a year ago | (#43675017)

Patenting algorithms is patenting mathematics itself. That makes about as much sense as patenting biological processes.
Oh wait. Never mind. Now I see why Monsanto will push the USA to jump all over NZ.

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year ago | (#43675977)

Actually, patenting biological processes, as long as they're actually inventions and not just discoveries, makes a whole lot more sense.

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year ago | (#43676241)

Too bad then that Monsanto hasn't been inventing biological processes, just discovering them.

The gene to degrade the herbicide RoundUp was discovered in bacteria growing in the wastewater from a RoundUp synthesis plant.

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43678191)

Luckily, the most useful concepts on CS were created 30 to 50 years ago. Imagine a world were hash tables are patented...

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#43678231)

Software algorithms, especially as most programmers were taught from the same basics, can be very ubiquitous. While I think coding implementation of an alogrithm can be unique and should be copyrightable, granting patents on the algorithm is a very flawed and growth inhibiting concept.

But that's more of a question of whether a new algorithm is obvious in view of the basics that everyone knows. This is a separate question of whether even the most novel, nonobvious software algorithm ever invented could be patentable - something so far beyond what you can do with the basics, or even beyond imagining: should that super inventive, Nobel-prize winning, unquestioned "Most Non-obvious Program Ever" still be barred from patentability, merely because it's a program?

Obvious programs, of course, shouldn't be patentable, but that's because they're obvious, not because they're programs. Why should you be able to patent a circuit that takes an input, performs a function, and spits out an output, but you shouldn't be able to patent the same exact input-function-output in software? What if your software is explicitly modelling the electronic components, like Circuit Lab? Is it still unpatentable when it's a collection of virtual hardware? In the same vein, what about a new type of automatic transmission for a car - patentable machine, right? What if you model it in a 3D CAD program? Suddenly unpatentable software? Even if, hiding the monitor bezel and cranking the rendering resolution up to full, an observer couldn't tell the difference between the physical prototype and the virtual prototype?

Re:Patents Should Have Never Been Granted on Softw (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about a year ago | (#43680289)

... should that super inventive, Nobel-prize winning, unquestioned "Most Non-obvious Program Ever" still be barred from patentability, merely because it's a program?

Yes. Absolutely. The problem isn't obviousness, it's novelty. Math and software and physical laws are not invented, they're discovered. However non-obvious an algorithm may seem, it's not new; it's always existed, waiting for someone to ask the right question. This is distinct from what patents are meant to cover, which is specific applications of things like math and software and physical laws to the production of particular goods.

Why should you be able to patent a circuit that takes an input, performs a function, and spits out an output, but you shouldn't be able to patent the same exact input-function-output in software?

It's the circuit which is (presumably) novel and patentable, not the function it computes. In other words, the software version lacks exactly the part which would qualify for a patent.

What if your software is explicitly modelling the electronic components, like Circuit Lab? Is it still unpatentable when it's a collection of virtual hardware?

As long as it remains virtual, yes. If you come up with some kind of novel & non-obvious circuit element, the physical circuit element you invented would be patentable. The virtual representation would not be.

In the same vein, what about a new type of automatic transmission for a car - patentable machine, right? What if you model it in a 3D CAD program? Suddenly unpatentable software?

Now you're just being ridiculous. The patentable part is obviously the physical automatic transmission. The patent would not cover a mere 3D model of the transmission.

Good luck NZ (1)

Krneki (1192201) | about a year ago | (#43674151)

... because you will need it. The US of fucking A will nuke you faster then NK.

Re:Good luck NZ (0)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about a year ago | (#43674385)

love you, too. You're so sweet and kind. Must be nice to be in a country that doesn't care about anything the people in the country produce and what happens to it around the world. Be glad China, Iran, North Korea or many other countries around the world are not a super-power.

Re:Good luck NZ (2)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | about a year ago | (#43676711)

I think you misread the intent of OPs comment. Maybe I'm being naive/altruistic, but I took it as a sincere "good luck" because as even us Americans know, "'Murica! Fuck yeah!" Corporate interests will lobby hard to fight NZ doing this. I think it's great, and I hope it paves the way for other places to admit the ridiculousness of it and strike it down as well.

Axis of Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674235)

New Zealand has now joined the Axis of Evil, Steve Ballmer is punching walls while pushing congress to invade and force regime change on this terrorist socialist nation.

Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (2)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about a year ago | (#43674359)

Enough said. But I totally expect the US Government and other large multi-national corporations to heavily pressure them into ditching this idea.

A country with some sense. (4, Interesting)

neghvar1 (1705616) | about a year ago | (#43674553)

WooHoo! What I wish patent limitations here would be is 1) must be a tangible inventions (in other words, no software, business models, etc. Must have physical form) 2) Must be something that was invented and not simply discovered. ( no patenting of genes) 3) The person(s) or company that filed the patent must be a practicing entity ( R&D, manufacturing and marketing of that invention must be conducted otherwise the patent will be voided) 4) Patents must be specific to the invention (in simplest terms, meaning that invention 10 + 10 =20 would not be a violation of invention 4 * 5 =20 patent) 5) Patent refers to the specifics of the final product only( the final product of a genetically engineered seed and not just a strand of its DNA. meaning that cross-pollenization and hybridization conducted by nature that creates a new seed that contains that gene does not violate the patent. Up yours Monsanto!!)

Re:A country with some sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43679857)

Have a read of the Explanatory Footnotes to the Supplementary Order Paper [legislation.govt.nz] . Somehow the government seem to think that by embedding software it becomes hardware.

Re:A country with some sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43681333)

Is that a problem? That page gives as an example a washing machine with embedded software, where (it seems) only that particular combination of machine & software would be considered novel enough to patent.

The machine itself would be patentable, if it was novel enough, as it should be. The specifics of its embedded software might be patentable, because it interacts only with that particular machine - but when not paired with that particular machine, the software itself would not be patentable.

This seems like a good thing. It means someone else can still produce a washing machine with different embedded software, and it means that someone else can use similar algorithms in the embedded software for a different kind of machine. Doesn't it?

Is this good or bad? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year ago | (#43674607)

I'm usually opposed to software patents because a lot of them seem trivial and focused upon anti-competitive business practices. Of course, patent trolls aren't helping matters either.

On the other hand, I don't see why non-obvious and non-trivial innovations shouldn't be patentable. Many algorithms take a considerable amount of time and money to develop. Industry wouldn't be willing to undertake the development process unless there is an opportunity to recoup their investment.

Re:Is this good or bad? (5, Insightful)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about a year ago | (#43674727)

Because algorithms, like mathematical formulae are not so much developed as discovered. The same algorithm would've worked in caveman days on a rock-based Turing machine, it's just that we hadn't gotten around to finding it yet. It would be akin to patenting diamonds the first time they were discovered, and equally absurd. Now, you don't have to share your discovery with anyone, and you can certainly copyright your specific implementation of it, but patenting discoveries does the opposite of what the patent system was supposed to do which is to foster innovation. In point of fact the patent system fails pretty hard in fostering innovation right now, as quick as science is progressing.

Re:Is this good or bad? (2)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43678209)

Even more. Patents have no mechanism to account from independent re-discovery, which is everywhere in CS.

Re:Is this good or bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43675531)

Many algorithms take a considerable amount of time and money to develop. Industry wouldn't be willing to undertake the development process unless there is an opportunity to recoup their investment.

In addition to what the sibling poster said, sweat of the brow is not a consideration for determining any sort of intellectual rights ownership. Patents are not intended to protect any person's ROI.

Also, I defy anyone to produce an objective definition of "innovation." If you "know it when you see it" then I submit that the animal does not exist.

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43674943)

Well, if I can't profit off my inventions in NZ then I'm not going to invent.

Re:Stupid (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43677139)

Hey, MS did fine without inventing.

Re:Stupid (1)

Ultracrepidarian (576183) | about a year ago | (#43678453)

It's my understanding that Bill did invent peek() and poke().

Re:Stupid (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43682715)

Gates invented Backdooring the interpreter? I don't think so. He just came with silly names.

Patent Trolls (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43677091)

But the home of LOR should love patent trolls.

Patent: Stealing somebody else's idea legally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43717045)

Albert Einstein was working in a patent office and failed to see the benefits of patenting his equations of relativity!
If Isaac Newton or Wilhelm Leibniz patented calculus we would still be living in the stone age!

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