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New Zealand Draft Patent Law Rewritten After Microsoft Meeting 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the spreading-goodwill-and-benevolence dept.
ciaran_o_riordan writes "After two private meetings with Microsoft and IBM, New Zealand's proposed new patent legislation has been changed by 'replacing an exclusion in clause 15(3A) (which relates to computer programs) with new clause 10A. Rather than excluding a computer program from being a patentable invention, new clause 10A clarifies that a computer program is not an invention for the purposes of the Bill.' The difference is that the new 10A clause contains the 'as such' loophole — the wording that is used by the European Patent Office to grant software patents. This is the same Patents Bill launched in 2009."
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New Zealand Draft Patent Law Rewritten After Microsoft Meeting

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  • by sabri (584428) * on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @08:14PM (#41159439)
    Now let's wait and see whether or not M$ will outsource part of their workforce to Kiwiland to thank the politicians for their great cooperation...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BSAtHome (455370)

      Surely, part of the lawyer workforce will be outsourced to squeeze the kiwis (it is like pressing lemons, just more sweet). Wasn't that the point of the meeting?

      • squeeze the kiwis (it is like pressing lemons, just more sweet)

        I think that all depends on what kind of kiwis the lawyers will be squeezing. Given the disposition of lawyers, I don't expect anything sweet to come out of their kiwi-squeezing endeavors.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by linatux (63153)

      Probably just got a $5 discount off our govt licence agreement.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      Now let's wait and see whether or not M$ will outsource part of their workforce to Kiwiland to thank the politicians for their great cooperation...

      Kiwiland? ...is that near Hobitton?

  • Meetings, hey? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Everything Else Was (786676) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @08:23PM (#41159557)
    Sounds like the kind of 'private meetings' where large sums of money change hands.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No money, as such, changes hands.

    • No, no. Far more sinister.

      It is where money changes government policy and laws....

      The old hands never change....

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Maybe it's because no one else bothers to meet him and tell him that it's a stupid idea. Instead they just sit on the internet whining.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @08:45PM (#41159815)

    The idea is sound in principle (government regulates corporations to keep them from being abusive). But in practice the government usually lets the corporations *write* the regulations so they regs end-up being favorable to corporations and/or allows them immunity when they abuse their power.

    This revised patent law is one example. Another example is the recent U.S. Whistleblower regulation that requires employees who observe illegal activities to tell their boss (and then they get fired). So basically the corporations write the law to protect themselves from prosecution. This regulation was passed by a Democrat Congress and Democrat president.

    • Really? Really? "This is why regulations rarely work"? Any fool that actually believes this Libertian bullshit needs to go spend sometime in Mogadishu. Regulations work my friend, it is no accident that the countries with the most rules and highest taxes are also the least corrupt, are the safest and have the highest quality of life*. Regulations are what are keeping you alive right now. As for TFA, of course the govt consult with business, that's who pays the fucking bills and keeps the country running. i
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>"This is why regulations rarely work"? Any fool that actually believes this Libertian bullshit needs to go spend sometime in Mogadishu.

        Libertarian =/= Anarchist. You are the "fool" to equate these two philosophies. Libertarianism can be summed up eloquently by Jefferson: "It it were possible to have no government we would, but we resort to its creation in order to protect our inalienable rights." i.e. We believe in having a government not anarachy like Mogadishu.

        >>> it is no accident

    • by mpe (36238)
      The idea is sound in principle (government regulates corporations to keep them from being abusive). But in practice the government usually lets the corporations *write* the regulations so they regs end-up being favorable to corporations and/or allows them immunity when they abuse their power.

      Even worst here is allowing foreign corporations to do this.
  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @08:47PM (#41159839) Journal
    Let it pass. Let them all get their wildest wet dreams encoded in the laws of the world.

    And then... Let them sue each other into oblivion, a la Apple v. Samsung.

    And then... Let them realize that We The People really don't give a fuck about their rules. Digital media killed the old media monopolies (they just haven't fallen over yet); A few more generations of RapReps will kill what remains. The robber barons finally lost; Le Roi est morte, vive le Roi!
    • A few more generations of RapReps will kill what remains.

      Ominous Voice-Over: You wouldn't steal a car, so why would you steal a movie?
      Me: If I could download a car, I probably would!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Le Roi est morte, vive le Roi!

      Perhaps you were being ironic. "The King is dead; long live the King" means that the moment the king dies, another takes his place, so that we are never faced with the horror of being free from rule for even a second. So yes the downpressors might collapse in a heap of ash and dust, and we may be free of them perhaps for a moment until new ones come along with Fresh new ideas about how to squeeze the vise to extract more money from people. Is the moment worth waiting through all the "And then..."s?

      In the me

      • by pla (258480)
        Perhaps you were being ironic.

        Huh, I don't think I've ever heard that used in a non-ironic sense (or if not quite "ironic", more in the context of replacing an authority figure with an alternate form of "king", eg rule by the people).


        we may be free of them perhaps for a moment until new ones come along with Fresh new ideas about how to squeeze the vise to extract more money from people.

        I have no doubt that someone, somewhere, will always try (with some degree of success) subjugate as many people as
  • by karit (681682) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @09:06PM (#41160061) Homepage Journal

    It seems that the NZ government is meant to represent the voters wishes, but it does seem to do what the US and Multinationals want. The Office of the United States Trade Representative said clause excluding software from patent-ability "departed from patent eligibility standards in other developed economies" (http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/7570288/Govt-accused-of-Patent-Bills-betrayal), umm so can't one country take the lead and see a problem, address it and move on to a better place?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @09:18PM (#41160183)

      The current NZ govt is very business friendly - the Prime Minister is a former banker/currency trader. They have changed laws using urgent processes to strip worker rights to satisfy Hollywood. This is just the most recent example of selling out to big foreign corporate interests.

      • ^^ What he said.
        Those who voted in the National Government chose to elect a party that is well known for its position supporting business (over the individual).

        There's reports that around 1 Million NZ'rs (out of ~4.4M) didn't vote in the last election. There's still a chance to have an affect on the outcomes if enough of the apathetic step up and make their voices heard. Unfortunately for laws such as this, many folks don't see it as affecting them, and will remain oblivious...

        Yes i'm cynical about it. :(

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kittenman (971447)

          ^^ What he said. Those who voted in the National Government chose to elect a party that is well known for its position supporting business (over the individual).

          There's reports that around 1 Million NZ'rs (out of ~4.4M) didn't vote in the last election. There's still a chance to have an affect on the outcomes if enough of the apathetic step up and make their voices heard. Unfortunately for laws such as this, many folks don't see it as affecting them, and will remain oblivious...

          Yes i'm cynical about it. :(

          I'm one of the 1 million who didn't vote in NZ. I don't believe any of the parties reflect my personal views. I'm not apathetic, I'm disenchanted.

          And before someone rants on about the need to take part in the democratic process, this isn't a democracy. This is an elective oligarchy. The last democracy in the world was about 300 BCE, in Athens.

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            They've already bought every side with a reasonable chance at power anyway. Politicians are very inexpensive.
          • I'm not apathetic, I'm disenchanted.

            VortexCortex enters from the west.
            VortexCortex says:
            Heh, I can fix that.
            VortexCortex Casts Basement Dweller's Rage (Lv4) on Kittenman.
            Kittenman gains status effect: Ineffectual Comment (score +4)

            >_




          • I'm in the same boat -- didn't vote because I felt that none of them were worthy of my endorsement.

            Choosing the "least bad" is not the same as choosing "the best".

            I really can't believe we're still using a political system designed hundreds of years before the internet was invented -- when, thanks to modern technology, we could create a system that introduced the checks and balances essential to real democracy.

            Never one to criticize without offering a better solution, I came up with this political system wh

          • by pantaril (1624521)

            I'm one of the 1 million who didn't vote in NZ. I don't believe any of the parties reflect my personal views. I'm not apathetic, I'm disenchanted.

            There will never be a party which accurately reflects all of your personal views. You should vote for the party which is most compatible with your views. If you don't vote, you support the party which wins the elections (e.g. you support this business oriented party).

          • by jedwidz (1399015)

            As a fellow NZ'er, can I balance that by pointing out that we have one of the best-functioning democracies on the planet.

            We have a fair electoral system in MMP. Nearly everyone's party vote counts. And we're continuing to improve it, with the lowering of the threshold vote from 5% to 4%, and the removal of the awful 'coat-tails' rule.

            We have a low level of corruption. Case in point: National MP Pansy Wong was shamed into resigning after her husband had a business meeting while on a taxpayer-funded overseas

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @09:53PM (#41160501)

        Sadly, yes. Once upon a time, we had a NZ Goverment that would simply say to the USA and multinational organisations that they can Go Elsewhere.

        NZ said, "No Nuclear Vessels". The USA said "we can't stand for that. You'll be sorry." And they cancelled ANZUS. And NZ ... did not actually care. This much have infurated the USA Dept of State, a small little pacfiic island nation actually having the tenacity to ignore the mighty and powerful USA.

        But, this was years ago. Now, the current goverment is very USA friendly.

        (Where is David Lange when you need him? Sigh.)

        • by linatux (63153)

          Pretty sure he's dead

        • by gtall (79522)

          Are you out of your mind? The U.S. government couldn't give a rat's ass about NZ and canceled the treaty because y'all said you didn't want the U.S. military umbrella. After that, most of the U.S. government couldn't find NZ on the map, out of sight, out of mind. Get over yourself.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The US certainly ACTED like it cared.

            NZ didn't say it wanted the US military umbrella, NZ said it didn't want Nuclear powered ships in its waters.

            The US is still applying different treatment to NZ than it's other allies as a result of the ANZUS row, so it appears that the US still does care.

            But whatever, don't let facts bother your dick measuring competition.

        • by TummyX (84871)

          NZ had the bulls to do that because we knew that the US would come to our rescue treaty or not.

          • by jedwidz (1399015)

            I was pretty young at the time, so forgive me if I have this completely back-asswards.

            We (as in, the Labour government of the day) had the balls to stand up to the US on the nuclear issue because it was an easy fight and a popular diversion from the simultaneous caving in to US/global interests on matters of the economy and economic ideology.

            I have all respect for David Lange as a folk hero, but let's face it, his government sold us out.

      • by peppepz (1311345)
        I almost can see a pattern there, as it's the same thing that's happening in Italy. Multiple bankers at the government, stripping the workers' rights, selling public heritage to speculators and passing laws that are killing the country's economy even more.
    • by linatux (63153)

      Baaa!

    • by dlane (21691)

      I wrote about this leadership opportunity for NZ on the Fair Deal site (an anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement "IP Chapter" effort): http://fairdeal.net.nz/2012/08/nzoss-software-patent-exclusion-vs-tpp [fairdeal.net.nz]

  • by brillow (917507) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @09:58PM (#41160537)

    I think most people who are against software patents are actually against stupid patents, "design" patents, and not against the idea that software could be an original invention that entitles its creator to protection.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:06PM (#41160621)

      One of the justifications of patents is a deal theory, whereby the inventor discloses the invention in return for a limited-time monopoly. However, in the case of software patents, the inventor discloses nothing, hides the source code, and keeps the binary protected by copyright. So the deal is completely one-sided. That is what's wrong with software patents.

      • > However, in the case of software patents, the inventor discloses nothing, hides the source code, and keeps the binary protected by copyright. So the deal is completely one-sided. That is what's wrong with software patents.

        If that were true, software patents could be invalidated by any competent patent lawyer because they simply do not satisfy the statutory requirement for disclosure of the best known means of practicing the invention.

        However that isn't true. Patents are not copyrights. They don't cover

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > However, in the case of software patents, the inventor discloses nothing, hides the source code, and keeps the binary protected by copyright. So the deal is completely one-sided. That is what's wrong with software patents.

          If that were true, software patents could be invalidated by any competent patent lawyer because they simply do not satisfy the statutory requirement for disclosure of the best known means of practicing the invention.

          Boy, wouldn't that be nice. Can I join you in your fantasy land?

          One Click [espacenet.com]

          I see no source code, data structures, implementation details.. All I see is a garbled executive "flow chart" and a dozen claims covering every interface imaginable. If you create a system that interprets the solitary sound of someone farting in your general direction as a sale, then you're infringing.

          • by mdmkolbe (944892)

            All I see is a garbled executive "flow chart"

            IIRC, the USPTO refuses to accept source code and insists on flow charts, which I agree is quite stupid.

            (My info on this might be wrong, so corrections or confirmations are both welcome.)

    • by oakgrove (845019) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:10PM (#41160673)
      My problem with practically every software patent I've ever heard is they are patents on "ideas" not implementations. So when something like pinch-zoom is patented it doesn't have anything to do with how they actually achieved multi-touch but just the idea of spreading fingers apart to zoom the text. It's like patenting "going fast" and then hitting anybody going over 30 mph with a cease and desist. It's ludicrous.
      • by mpe (36238)
        My problem with practically every software patent I've ever heard is they are patents on "ideas" not implementations.

        You also have those of the form "Do X with a computer". Does it really make sense to consider using a general purpose machine to do something which is already well understood as any kind of "innovation"? (Especially if X was previously performed by a special purpose machine.)
      • by fa2k (881632)

        The audio/video compression patents are quite technical and detailed. I have to admit, though, that it's very satisfying to live in a country without SW patents and just ignore them. Yeah "might be illegal, what ever", now play me some MP3s! I suspect that they aren't encouraging that much innovation anyway, as so many companies benefit from high quality video delivery in other ways than licensing fees.

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:20PM (#41160787)

      I am against software patents because I think software patents all cover algorithms which are fundamentally unpatentable material.

      The farce that software patents must include an implementation component, that is a computer is transparently baloney. Computers are a general purpose computing device for which there are no known algorithmic limits. It is like saying that an algorithm is patentable because it can be executed on a general purpose mathematical universe. It is not a fundamental distinction.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Software is copyrighted, why does it need to be patented as well? How many redundant ways do we need to protect it?

      The copyright protects against stealing. And is all the protection ideas need or should have. (and even that it is probably too much)

      Patenting prevents others from doing the same thing a different way. EG: like allowing only Ford to make cars because he patented round wheels. Bad patent, well ALL software patents are BAD patents in the same vein.

    • I'm against patents because everyone is simply working by the old unproven hypothesis that patents are beneficial to society. I'm a scientist, so Prove It! In order to prove whether patents are beneficial or not we must run the experiment: Abolish them and see what happens. We didn't always have software patents, or patents at all (Ugg isn't cited as the "inventor" of fire), so we have a data point that lends credence to the idea that we don't actually need the artificial scarcity that patents and copyright create. The fashion and automotive industries also lack copyright and design patents, yet remain innovative in design, which furthers my argument for abolishing patents. No one has conclusive proof that patents are beneficial to society. Additionally, things have changed so drastically since patents and copyright were created that we need to abolish them now more than ever to see if the dawning of the Information Age has made them obsolete ideas or not.

      A writer can say: Nope, not going to write this book unless I'll get paid for doing it. A software engineer can say: Nope, not going to create software unless I get paid for doing it. A musician can say: Nope, I just need to get paid when I do work, like everyone else -- Hey, guess what? Musicians already do get most of their pay via working (concerts) and merchandise, not via selling artificially scarce copies. Software engineers already get paid to make software whether or not the patent lawyer comes around and asks them: "Did you create anything this month that might be patentable?" No software engineer is searching the patent database for solutions they can implement and license -- We all just do the job. In fact, I've been instructed on a few jobs to Never access the PTO database from the office -- Treble damages if you have prior knowledge. Technology companies only benefit by patents via weaponizing them, this hurts competition. Furthermore, If it's possible to accidently stumble across a patent, then it's damn obvious by definition.

      So, This person is actually against ALL patents, including software patents. I find the idea that software can be an original invention to be ridiculous because the first time someone accidentally infringes a patent via "independent invention" they're prohibited from using it while someone else is allowed to use the idea. That means you're awarding the research of one inventor and Punishing all the other researchers that come across the idea later. Why do you think the FIRST person to think of something should be the ONLY person to benefit from their own work? Software patents are by and large OBVIOUS, otherwise we wouldn't be stumbling across them. The non obvious ones aren't needed since no one accidentally implements them. WE EXPLICITLY TRY NOT TO LOOK AT THEM! THE PATENTS ARE WORTHLESS!

    • by pantaril (1624521)

      I think most people who are against software patents are actually against stupid patents, "design" patents, and not against the idea that software could be an original invention that entitles its creator to protection.

      I don't think so. Most people i know, who are against software patents (including me), are actualy against the idea that you should be able to patent some piece of code for many years in a field which is developing so dynamicaly, that years of monopoly on some invetion will clearly hinder the technological progress.

  • by fa2k (881632)

    Nice to see that Microsoft hasn't given up on being evil, it seemed like they were letting Apple win for a while.

  • How it went down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @06:37AM (#41163971) Homepage

    "Nice country you got here, New Zealand (*knocks framed picture off desk*). Oops, sorry about that. Accidents happen from time to time, if you catch my drift. Say, I hear you're drafting some new patent law. Why don't my boys here go over it with you to check for grammar and the like?"

  • They are a bitch to corporate interests, it's really too bad.

Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.

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