New Zealand’s new law bans software patents, roundhouse kicks patents troll in the face


I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of patent trolls suddenly cried out in terror as they were suddenly silenced. I feel something wonderful has happened. Yes, while you were sleeping, New Zealand’s parliament passed a major new patent bill that will see all software patents banned forever in the country.

The new bill states that a computer program is not an invention and as such is unable to be patented. Now, we aren’t lawyers but we understand this bill is designed to block the patenting of actual computer programs — any innovations in the logic behind computer programs will continue to be protected under the country’s copyright law. As ArsTechnica puts it:

Processes will still be patentable if the computer program is merely a way of implementing a patentable process. But patent claims that cover computer programs “as such” will not be allowed.

Also, it should be noted the law only applies for new software patents going forward. Software patents that have already been issued will still be applicable — you just won’t be able to get new software patents.

“It is a really strong signal that we’re serious about protecting innovators and about making NZ a really good place to run a tech company… We’ve already been approached by overseas, primarily US based companies, who’re looking very seriously about relocating to NZ, and one of the key reasons being because of things like the patent law” says Paul Matthews, chief executive at The Institute of IT Professionals. Matthews also tweeted to show his happiness: “Software patents are now disallowed in New Zealand. #Historic #Awesome #Yay.”

New Zealand’s new law brings the country more in line with other countries in Europe that have rejected software patents from companies such as Apple, although some may argue it may be an extreme. We expect other countries to study New Zealand as a model and, if successful, pave the way to make a change in their own nations.

[via ArsTechnica, NZ Herald, image via Zazzle]

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  • stephan

    so many software patents are for trivial things, like the two fingered pinch control that adjusts zoom.

    Any device that performs a function usually has some kind of adjustment. should someone be able to patent a knob?

    it’s about time that the courts get a good dose of common sense, and edit out the crap that gold tongued lawyers have lined the law books with.

  • Bub

    I don’t see how this makes any difference. The article says that the law only applies to the programs, not to the innovations therein. But all the high-profile software patent lawsuits I hear about are about patents on the innovations, which are still apparently protected.

  • Kind of mixed feelings about this one. Yes, it should prevent a lot of patent trolls, it might also help with the rampant use of patents to block others developing technology and could potentially even change licensing agreements.

    On the other hand, a patent lasts 7 years with options to renew only with further technological development. Copyrights last the life of the creator plus 75 years, in most of Europe anyway, and in the case of a corporation holding the copyright, a flat 100 years. Of course the programming changes so rapidly that it would be obsolete long before then, but it could hinder new developments. Hard to figure out which might be worse.