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New Zealand becomes a game-changer. Software patents no longer allowed

New Zealand becomes a game-changer. Software patents no longer allowed

Today the New Zealand government’s office announced that Commerce Minister Simon Power instructed the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) to develop guidelines to allow inventions that contain embedded software to be patented. After sifting through the legalese, this in essence means that software will no longer patentable.

When the Commerce Committee reported the bill back to Parliament in March it recommended that computer programmes not be a patentable invention.

During its consideration of the bill, the committee received many submissions opposing the granting of patents for computer programs on the grounds it would stifle innovation and restrict competition.

It also considered that companies investing in inventions involving “embedded” computer programs should be able to obtain patent protection for these inventions.

The committee and the Minister accept this position.

New Zealand is essentially taking the position that Copyright law provides enough protection to software as it is; patents only serve to stifle innovation because of the ever-looming threat of being sued by some obscure patent troll company. Make no mistake about it—there are companies whose sole purpose is to hoard patents until someone happens to violate them.

This is an exceptionally progressive move by a clearly tech-savvy government. The question becomes, of course: Is this good for innovation, or will it harm businesses by making it potentially easier to use their intellectual property to “steal” their code?


  1. Sad_esm But, can algorithms be patented? No, i'm not in NZ.
  2. dar Algorithms per se cannot be patented. Only methods that are tied up to a machine.
  3. ardichoke
    ardichoke Yessss..... go New Zealand. It's about time there was a government with enough common sense to see that patents are silly for software.
  4. Thrax
    Thrax Too bad they're trying to pull off a firewall too.
  5. dar This is bad news for innovators who deserve credit for the software patents they have developed.

    Also, to quote Paul Graham, "If you're against software patents, you're against patents in general. Gradually our machines consist more and more of software. Things that used to be done with levers and cams and gears are now done with loops and trees and closures. There's nothing special about physical embodiments of control systems that should make them patentable, and the software equivalent not."
  6. ardichoke
    ardichoke pssh... tell that to all the companies that put out brilliant innovative software just to be sued out of existence by some patent troll that patented an idea and never actually developed it. Copyright protection is the right way to go with software. You should have to actually develop the software for it to be protected and companies that develop something that has never been seen before shouldn't have to fear being sued by some company they've never heard of that has been sitting on a bunch of patents they've never done anything with.
  7. Vanesa "This is bad news for innovators who deserve credit for the software patents they have developed." I agree with you on that.
  8. caroline I am fully behind ardichoke and NZ. Software should not be patentable, right because of the Patent-trolls. This will block innovation. And in this world with all it's risks, e.g. changing climate, etcetera, we need all the innovation we can get.
  9. Jorge I don't believe that software is patentable. Period.

    Is good for profits to create patents around software, but software is not patentable BY NATURE.

    The reason for patents are to protect profits, and people that have a primary care for profits do not care about hurting the industry... funny enough it does hurts everybody.

    Did you know that food is not patentable? And I don't see McDonalds going broke because they can't sue Burger King.

    Did you know that clothe designs are not patentable? And Christian Dior is not going broke because all the imitations.

    Software patents are a bad idea. It prevents competition, it accuses developers of stealing obvious ideas (how can something be patentable if anybody on the trade can imagine the same solution?). And stifle competition, how long IE6 lasted? and it didn't evolved until firefox and others became a threat?

    Software on it self is not more patentable than math formulas, if math were patentable... can you imagine the mess? that is what we are doing to software.

    Good for NZ!
  10. MAGIC
    MAGIC I don't know here. I think people should be paid for their ideas even if they dont have the resouces to actually create it but I don't think someone should be allowed to railroad a company that intends to develope an idea with a patent.
  11. mirage
    mirage I also agree with NZ that copyrights are more than sufficient for protecting software IP. Software patents are like Indiana Jones producers charging fee to everyone showing a man with a whip and hat in their movie.
  12. Linc
  13. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster As someone that works for a company whose primary competitor basically exists by infringing on our patented technology, I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this?
  14. Paladin677
    Paladin677 1 down, 100 or so countries to go.
  15. Lipe123 This is a great idea, I hope it catches on everywhere. As for the comments on "poor programmers getting their ideas stolen" -utter BS. No programmer codes for fame, name me ONE programmer thats "famous". No programmer writes code in the hopes of getting rich on the patents (at least not decent programmers) If your code is that good that others choose to use it, that in itself would make me feel pretty awesome.
    No it wont stifle progress either, infact companies will be able to see the competitions code and be able to respond with improvements of their own thats not based on guess work. At worst this would mean that the bar will be higher across the board because even bad programmers can just borrow code.

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