Patents Bill petitioner demands action
Subscribe now for $100 (23 issues) and save more than 37% off the cover price!
Get the latest news from Computerworld delivered via email.
Sign up now
The movement against software patents will be ramping up its campaign, trying to encourage a more active political stance in support of the Patents Bill as it currently stands, with its clause stating simply “a computer program is not a patentable invention”.
Action is urgent, says Dave Lane, organiser of the ‘No Software Patents in NZ’ petition. Parliament is due to start sitting on January 29 and the Bill is currently eighth on the order paper. This means that after its debate by the committee of the whole House, it could reach the third reading stage in the first week of Parliament this year.
Two Supplementary Order Papers are expected to form part of the debate, one under the name of Patents Bill sponsor Craig Foss, seeking to change the provision by inserting the much-debated phrase “as such” after “program”. Opponents say this will very much weaken the provision, allowing many undesirable software patents in. The other SoP, from Clare Curran, essentially retains the uncompromising stance of the Bill as drafted by the Commerce Select Committee.
Lane doubts assurances from the government side of the House that the “as such” rewording has not been influenced by overseas interests and a need to curry favour to ensure swift signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement.
Lane says politicians and public-service officials are “not standing up for New Zealand’s interests”, and stronger political statements are needed to redirect them along the right path. He intends to organise an initiative to approach signatories to this end.
The petition had attracted 1194 signatures as of January 22. Many signatories have appended detailed statements in support of their position: “Software patents make it almost impossible to write software without fear of infringing someone else’s patent,” says Graham Harris of Telecom. “The result will be that writing software commercially will become restricted to global companies with pockets deep enough to buy off patent infringement suits.”
“Any time the [phrase] ‘as such’ is used it is going to be left open to interpretation, and should not be used in any legal document,” says Dan Barnett of PC Computer Consultants.
Ray Mihaere, board member of cloud software developer the Clear Foundation says “government support of NZ” evidenced by the stance against software patent was the reason Clear moved its headquarters to NZ. “More innovative companies will come as the financial situation and patent vultures impede their viability and growth and so NZ has the ability to attract the next emerging Silicon Valley if it plays its cards right,” he writes by his signature on the petition.
The petition is still open (at http://no.softwarepatents.org.nz) says Lane.
Not everyone in the IT industry is against the new wording of the Patent Bill. NZICT has come out in support of the changes.
“The amended law is in line with the position advocated by NZICT, and will provide greater certainty and an easier path to export markets for innovators with more consistent rules and expectations around intellectual property settings,” said NZICT CEO Candace Kinser in a press release in August last year.
We think NZICT do a good job in many areas, we disagree with their stance on software patents. But mostly NZRise exists to champion New Zealand owned and operated digital businesses.
Posted by Don Christie at 17:04:26 on January 30, 2013
Posted by Anonymous at 17:30:51 on January 30, 2013
Bottom line is ICT is unregulated in NZ and under threat.
41k ish ICT workers in this country and with Cloud, plus Govt, emerging, you should be worried.
Instead of bagging the ONLY lobby groups we have, why don't you get out of your Ivory towers, our quiet Govt architecture jobs, pull your heads out of your backsides, and support them.
Posted by Finch at 19:32:46 on January 29, 2013
How is it that people can say NZRise has a more accurate representation of the industry?
The Chair and CEO were both CEO's of NZ software companies, not "big US-based corporates"
I've read their news and newsletters, and NZICT actually do things to help companies, like taking them offshore on trade missions, encouraging women and youth to have careers in the industry.
It looks like NZRise just complain about NZICT and don't do anything else.
Posted by Anonymous at 12:35:25 on January 29, 2013
Posted by Anonymous at 13:27:48 on January 29, 2013
Posted by Dave Lane at 13:33:03 on January 29, 2013
Posted by Dave Lane at 12:46:49 on January 29, 2013
Has anyone actually asked them?
Posted by Anonymous at 12:51:16 on January 29, 2013
Posted by Dave Lane at 12:42:05 on January 29, 2013
They're a member organisation, aren't they?
One would assume that if they are well funded, it is because they have a strong member base. Which would back their position as being an industry group.
Organisations won't always see eye to eye, but one would think that NZRise would be better off talking to other organisations to work with them on issues impacting the industry. Finding a common ground and understanding each others views and reasons for them might be a better approach. Slandering one group, particularly when you have common members, just seems counterproductive for the industry.
You may even be able to get them to see your point of view.
Posted by confused at 14:17:24 on January 29, 2013