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back to article Kiwis (finally) confirm software ban under new patent law

It's taken five years, but New Zealand's parliament has finally passed its long-awaited patent reform, which among other things makes it clear that a bit of code isn't enough to attract patent protection. The tortuous history of the new Patents Bill has seen IT companies lobbying on both sides of the debate. Local kiwi firms …

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Happy

Another outbreak of common sense from the southern hemisphere.

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Meh

New Zealand Legal system seems to have the balls that other legal systems lack, but this is probably just a Government exercise to save money.

Unfortunately the patent trolls will just head off to the US for their fun.

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Paris Hilton

This is good for NZ right?

Less uncertainty and fear of being sued translates to less monopoly power for the Big Players, saner, more flexible and better manageable economic activity (with a higher pressure to innovate instead of looking for rentier revenue), less Ferraris for the lawyerastic bloodsuckers and finally an avoidance of useless work and waste for the patent office, the judiciary and the state's gun wielders with its concomitant danger of seeing incestuous empire building and rampant tax revenue destruction for the benefit of the few.

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Anonymous Coward

Good

It would be nice if this were to spread elsewhere, however I doubt that there is much chance of that.

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Re: Good (or not)

otoh they passed a security bill the other day that effectively makes the Prime Minister a one-man FISA court, so that they next time they want to spy on the likes of Kim Schmitz they can do so legally.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good (or not)

Yes but that wasn't the legal system, that was the power hungry government changing the rules.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good

It would indeed be very nice. Reading that article I felt significant envy. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the tosspots lodging in Westminster would do something benevolent, like this, for once. Sadly, on the rare occasions when said scum isn't busying itself contriving legislation to further subjugate the plebs for the benefit of foreign* mega-corps, they amuse themselves by ramming obscene sums of the taxpayer's money directly into the coffers of those same foreign* mega-corps - usually in return for absolutely nothing. No mistaking whose interests they are representing.

Good old Kiwis. Hope they do well out of it. I also hope more dominoes follow but hold no illusions that we might be among them. Our shameless shambles seem unable to muster the even the tiniest trace of decency to pass a minuscule speck of anti-corruption legislation ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23862118 ). Supposedly the current voluntarily disclosure "system" is "the best way" to control political bribery and corruption on the septic isle.

* invariably foreign as all but the tiniest vestiges of British industry were taxed, bureaucralysed and lightning stricken into oblivion long ago.

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Anonymous Coward

a complete non event

As it does not cover any processing such as 'method to unlock smartphone' I'm fingering this to be, in effect, a compete pile of crap.

They need to ban methods that any effing halfwit intern is capable of thinking of !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a complete non event

It's a start.

Every endeavour to dismantle a monstrous edifice using a toothpick must begin with a single prod

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Re: a complete non event

" but with an explanatory note in the bill that if the only novel aspect is the software, then it can't be patented."

Swipe to unlock is the only novel aspect, that part would be covered. (at least on the surface, the implication is that it would be covered)

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It won't have much impact

II am a New Zealander, working in the software sector. This might be a cute symbolic gesture, but it really has no significant impact.

It really does not matter whether you think patents are good or bad, ultimately all that matters is what is legal where you try to sell product.

NZ is a tiny market, therefor almost all of the software developed in NZ has to be suitable for export (the exception being the small amounts of software being developed only for internal use eg. government stuff).

To be exportable, it has to meet the laws of the importing nation. That makes the NZ laws just posturing at this point.

For example, I work in the embedded system space, developing products for sale world wide. The boss would not be happy if I wrote software that means the product could only be sold in NZ. That would not pay the bills. The same goes for pretty much all the embedded systems organisations, as well as the larger software houses who write stuff primarily for export.

Stuff being developed for internal use is, for the most part government or large corporation payroll/organisation software. This is very rarely of any novelty and is very seldom going to be anything patentable.

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Re: It won't have much impact

That's quite a nice summary of one of the downsides to globalization. Good ideas originating in small places are drowned out or made insignificant by the overwhelming force of a few big entities. If something isn't 'good' for those largest entities, it is viewed with contempt, regardless of its merits.

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Re: It won't have much impact

Of course, these are software products, and you can sell software from anywhere.

The prospect of various governments in the "freedom loving" Western countries stuffing a load of kiwi servers behind rather ineffective national firewalls at the behest of Microsoft, Oracle and the rest of the usual suspects is... amusing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It won't have much impact

Sweetly struck M Gale.

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Re: It won't have much impact

"you can sell software from anywhere". Perhaps that could work for pure software products. No doubt USA would make it illegal to trade with these sites like they do for offshore gambling.

However it won't work for embedded systems etc where the software is just a small part of the product and needs to be physically imported.

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I don't get code patents at all. They are set instructions and commands already in the public domain, weather it be in C# php or java. The commands are already there for anyone to use and put together. How can you patent something that once compiled, no one can see unless they have the source code.

Inventions are one thing because you can see all the components of an invention and copy it exactly. With a compiled program(I am in no way a "coder") I understand you cant see the exact code. So if someone wants to create a slide to unlock interface for themselves then they would have to write their own way of doing it. To me that is not copying what the other person is doing, to me that is competition.

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With a compiled program(I am in no way a "coder") I understand you cant see the exact code.

On the contrary, the exact code is precisely what you can see. You can't see the original high-level description which the compiler turned into the code, but you can copy that code exactly and have the same end result.

Of course, then you hit copyright law issues...

It's the ongoing argument, what exactly is the "invention"? Is it an object itself, or the instructions for making the object, or a description of an object that may never have been made, or the idea behind the description of the objects. Which, if any, of those applies to a piece of code, before or after compilation?

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Re: "They are set instructions and commands already in the public domain"

Let me give you an analogy : a hammer and saw are tools that are commonly available in the public domain, yet you can use these tools to create something unique, that could eventually be patentable.

That, in any case, is the excuse for the existence of software patents. As a justification, I can just about understand it.

Then they turn around and patent "one-click" operations, or sending data securely via TCP or some other such nonsense that we've all been doing since the beginning of time (i.e. the beginning of the Internet), and the whole house of cards falls right on its face.

I don't care what your arguments are for software patents - it's all just a sham to make more money out of litigation and stifle competition instead of actually making something better.

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"as such"

My understanding is that what is disallowed is "computer programs as such".

These are the weasel words introduced by the UK patent office in order to slide round the (pre)existing ban (throughout the EU) on patenting mathematics, computer programs, and business methods.

Weasel words == cash for lawyers.

The real problem is that patents are issued without adequate examination, and once issued there is a presumption of validity with negligible penalties for misleading (failure to disclose) patent applications or incompetent examination.

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@ vagabondo

"The real problem is that patents are issued without adequate examination, and once issued there is a presumption of validity with negligible penalties for ...... incompetent examination."

You mean there are penalties for incompetent examination?

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Two weeks ago, I wrote some exponent+mantissa floating point arithmetic code from scratch using my 'A' level text book to remind myself how to do exponent arithmetic and a 60-year-old electronics text book to remind myself how to do binary multiplication and division.

Then, last week, I heard a news report about a huge patent battle in the US over implementing floating point arithmetic". What the f??? Somebody thinks they can patent **arithmetic**????

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It's the novelty surely

A patent requires novelty in whatever form the novelty is implemented. If it's implemented in software, so be it. Just as with hardware.

That patents are sometimes poorly examined for their novelty is down to the examiner. And there is a ton of prior art so sometimes a patent is granted mistakenly. An outright ban on software patents is a mistake IMO. But any proposed patent implemented in software does need to make clear that it is the novelty behind the code that is being patented - not the software itself. Specific software code should be protected under copyright, not patent.

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The issue isn't software

The prime thrust of this legislation is to prevent patenting of '"XYZ well known processs" on a computer'

Which should never have been allowed in any jurisdiction. Taking something already invented and computerising it isn't novel or a new invention, merely a refinement.

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