Thursday May 09, 2013

No More Patents on Software In New Zealand

Chris Duckett at ZDNet citing New Zealand’s Commerce Minister Craig Foss on a ruling that limits the scope of patents on software:

The Commissioner considers that the actual contribution of the claim lies solely in it being a computer program. The mere execution of a method within a computer does not allow the method to be patented. Accordingly, the process is not an invention for the purposes of the Act.

An interesting development. He poses the idea that a novel washing machine using software to do it’s work could be patentable depending on the novelty of the process. However, a program that auto-fills legal documents could not. The mere act of automation is considered obvious.

I like where this is going, but it still leaves huge holes for misuse. I’d love to see a perspective like this here in the USA, but we still have to deal with the troll situation. Can I risk working on an idea if there’s the possibility that a troll will lob an expensive lawsuit at me–even if I have a more reasonable chance to win under a new system like this?

Regardless, I’d love to see more politicians here in the US show this level of understanding:

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, often for ‘obvious’ work.

I’m pulling for you, USA. Don’t let me down.