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NZ Draft Bill Rules Out Software Patents 194

Posted by timothy
from the plus-it's-beautiful-there dept.
Korgan writes "In what must be a first in the face of ACTA and US trade negotiations pressure, a Parliamentary select committee has released a draft bill that explicitly declares that software will no longer be patentable in New Zealand. FTA: 'Open source software champions have been influential in excluding software from the scope of patents in the new Patents Bill. Clause 15 of the draft Bill, as reported back from the Commerce Select Committee, lists a number of classes of invention which should not be patentable and includes the sub-clause "a computer program is not a patentable invention."'"
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NZ Draft Bill Rules Out Software Patents

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  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:23AM (#31684748)

    It's still only a draft.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:23AM (#31685082)

    Why am I not living in NZ, yet ?

    Well, first you need a visa. Which probably requires a job or student-status. You haven't applied for that. I expect you'll also need a passport, which you still haven't applied for even though I've been reminding you for months. I mean, jeeze, you can get a passport photo at freakin' WALMART. So really it's just that you can't be bothered to start making progress on it.

    Oh, and your mom called.

  • Re:Why Not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:33AM (#31685142)
    Software (meaning the code) is copyrightable and should not be patentable.

    Let me give you an oversimplified example:
    * Take 100 programmers from this website (rookies, dinosaurs and everything in between)
    * Assign them all the exact same task: write software to solve a specific business problem
    * Require them all to work in isolation so there can be no sharing of ideas or solutions
    * On your marks, get ready, go!

    Chances are that most (if not all) will come up with a solution that addresses the specific problem that needed to be solved (as well as assorted other features and functionality because, hey, we are programmers). There is also a very good chance that more than one will come up with the same solution, or similar enough that it would "qualify" as a patent violation. So, who gets the patent?
    * Is it the first person to finish, even if their solution is clumsy or inelegant or inefficient?
    * Is it the best solution? Who judges this?
    * What about the people who came up with the same (or similar) solutions independently?
    * Should whomever gets the patent be able to sue the other 99 people for patent infringement just because they arrived at a similar or different business solution independently?

    That's one of the basic problems with software patents. And that alone is enough to make me think software patents are just a bad idea.
  • No, it isn't. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:39AM (#31685186)

    No, it isn't. There's nothing about a non obvious algorithm that demands or deserves patent protection. How to implement that efficiently on an ISIC, YES, but as a mathematical statement (which its implementation in software IS), NO.

  • Re:Why Not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drishmung (458368) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:41AM (#31685196)

    I've never really followed the arguments behind why everyone hates software patents. I'm not trolling here, please help me understand. As I understand it, the idea behind a patent is to encourage an inventor to invest resources in R&D and then to share their new techniology with society, in return for a time-limited monopoly on exploiting that new technology. This is arguably a bit broken at the moment -- largely because patents seem to be overly broad and to last too long -- but the basic idea seems sound.

    See http://redmonk.com/sogrady/2010/03/19/software-patents/ [redmonk.com]

    The software patent system may be in need of repair, but is it really worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    It's too broken, too fundamentally broken, to fix.

  • Slash-doppers (Score:0, Insightful)

    by oleop (974651) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:56AM (#31685296)
    RIP for independent developers. Readers of this site are moslty overceffeinated IT monkeys. Without IP protection what are the chances for the small team or an individual to create their own company? Once invention (and many software enginners did created amazing inventions) can be freely copied by anyone (including Misrosoft, IBM or Baidu, or sorry, Baidu is from country where you can copy anything) - goodbye independent development. There is no reward for sleepless nigths (unless you are writing viruses and getting paid by criminals or NSA). Oh, yeah, you can get bonus - 1/100 of your boss if he's in good mood. Everyone coding will become slave of those holding money. Anyone can explain me WHY protecting new can opener is OK and new algorythm is not? Both require some knowledge and (to be desired by others) need to be better then existing ones - which means sofistincation and hard work of the creator. Socialists and likes - please see great "success" of late USSR and China until both got opened for foreign innovations. Both countries where stack with outdated technologies and where spending hughe money to COPY what West (in IT it meant - US, whether Old World likes it or not) had created. And all this despite huge intellectuall potential! The fact that you have stupid patents does not mean you do not want to protect those who have creative mind. Bad judge decisions does not mean you need to rely on stoning pepole. Economical recession does not mean you need thos leave in 1984.
  • Re:Bad wording? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:04AM (#31685340)

    I imagine you could still patent the concept as long as it was implemented as firmware but I assume the patent could not be used to stop others implementing the concept in software. Standard disclaimers - IANAL. I haven't RTFA.

    You also apparently either don't understand what firmware is, or what software is. (Your software doesn't cease to be software if it's burned into non-reprogrammable memory. Not all software is firmware, but all firmware is software. It's just software recorded on non-erasable chip media. Heck, often these days it's erasable too. Not as easily as when it's saved on disk, but still... software doesn't cease being software merely because you change the media you save it on.)

  • Re:Why Not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:18AM (#31685422)
    Patenting an algorithm is not really like patenting an invention. It's more like patenting a mathematical law or a scientific discovery. If someone comes up with a new way to factor large numbers, they should get a Nobel Prize, not a market monopoly and a private island (unless you can buy a private island for cost of your Nobel Prize award).
  • Re:Bad wording? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:33AM (#31685512)

    No. Software is an algorithm. This is not a matter open to debate, unless you have recently had some very revolutionary papers published in the fields of math and computer science.

  • Draft only (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:37AM (#31685548) Homepage Journal
    Draft bill. Not final. Not to worry. An army of lobbyists is already on a flight to NZ to "correct" the situation before it passes.
  • Re:Why Not? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:15AM (#31686382)

    The U.S Patent office allows some absurd patents as well, just because it is on a computer. Additionally software patents usually fail the obviousness clause. If I can come up with the Idea, it definitely shouldn't be patentable.

    "One click shopping"

    Floating point "textures" on a graphics card. (also applies to the driver or to the "textures" themselves) A graphic texture is really just a structure or array, and floating point math arrays & calculation actually predate electronic (including vacuum tube tech) computers. Additionally, floating point "textures" (arrays really) is used for things already commonly done in CPU based raytracing. but SGI got the patent because it's "on the graphics card"

    S3 texture compression. another on that fails the obviousness test. Modem communication was already using compression, cslip, zmodem and the ilk. Its not a huge strech to see that the bandwidth saveings in communication could save bandwidth in gpu to memory, or cpu to gpu over any bus.

    Phil Zimmerman vs. RSA Inc. Phil independently came up with basically the same algorithm as RSA patented. Public key encryption.
    I need a new "This Shirt is a Munition" shirt.

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