Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Software

New Zealand Bans Software Patents 150

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-everything-is-bad dept.
Nerdfest writes with news that New Zealand has, after going back and forth a couple of times, finally banned software patents. From the article: "New Zealand has finally passed a new Patents Bill that will effectively outlaw software patents after five years of debate, delay, and intense lobbying from multinational software vendors. Aptly-named Commerce Minister Craig Foss welcomed the modernization of patents law, saying it marked a 'significant step towards driving innovation in New Zealand'. An IITP poll of members at the time showed 94% of those with a view were in favor of banning software patents."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Zealand Bans Software Patents

Comments Filter:
  • actually, no (Score:5, Informative)

    by i_hate_robots (922668) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:33AM (#44697011)
    article title, and summary for that matter, are not exactly accurate. here's why (in great detail). http://www.fosspatents.com/2013/08/new-zealand-parliament-adopts-uk.html [fosspatents.com]
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by OzPeter (195038)

      Mod up parent .. I was going to post the same

    • Re:actually, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:46AM (#44697135)

      Huh? You link to Florian Mueller and Fosspatents.com... okay you've lost me as he's well know for being a bought and paid for shill of the software patent industry and patent trolls. I wouldn't believe ANYTHING he writes as it's normally 100% WRONG!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by i_hate_robots (922668)
        I understand having strong opinions about Mueller, but if you read his argument I think he is making a valid point in this case, which he backs up with the actual text of the bill (so it's probably not 100% inaccurate). As commenter raymorris pointed out below, all this law states is that adding "on a computer" to a process doesn't automatically make it a new patent. It doesn't broadly and completely abolish software patents in general.
        • Re:actually, no (Score:5, Informative)

          by c0d3g33k (102699) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @12:31PM (#44697581)

          Known shill = untrustworthy source of information. Even a broken clock is right twice a day - that doesn't mean it's ok to start believing it when you want to know what time it is. You ignore it and seek out an unbroken clock.

          • by ackthpt (218170)

            Known shill = untrustworthy source of information. Even a broken clock is right twice a day - that doesn't mean it's ok to start believing it when you want to know what time it is. You ignore it and seek out an unbroken clock.

            Unless it perpetually indicates 5:00 PM - time to check in at the Tiki Bar.

            Some of the biggest liars I've ever known occasionally tell the truth, otherwise they'd function like some Bizarro World inhabitant.

          • by maestroX (1061960)

            Even a broken clock is right twice a day - that doesn't mean it's ok to start believing it when you want to know what time it is.

            gem

          • Even a broken clock is right twice a day

            Off topic, but: The only clocks that show correct time more often than broken clocks are the ones that go backwards... At least i find that interesting.

        • Re:actually, no (Score:5, Informative)

          by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:53PM (#44698763)
          You mean this text, Part 2 - Patentable inventions: "We recommend amending clause 15 to include computer programs among inventions that may not be patented."

          http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2008/0235/14.0/whole.html [legislation.govt.nz]

          Yeah reading is a real bitch.
      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        Huh?! You post as Anonymous Coward... ok, you've lost me as ACs are well known for being shrills and trolls and generally lame asses! I wouldn't believe ANYTHING ACs write as it's normally 1000% WRONG!!!!!!!

    • While ZDNet is not the greatest off sources, the one you referenced is fat leads reliable. I'd be interested in seeing commentary from a better source than both.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Because a known shill says so?
      So are you Florian or did he pay you to post this?

    • by linuxguy (98493) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @12:21PM (#44697483) Homepage

      If you knew who Florian Mueller was, you would never quote him on anything.

    • Re:actually, no (Score:4, Informative)

      by defconpuck (1313737) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @12:42PM (#44697687)

      Why don't you read the actual bill?

      Under "Other exclusions":
      "(3A) A computer program is not a patentable invention."

      http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2008/0235/14.0/whole.html#DLM1419230 [legislation.govt.nz]

      • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @12:55PM (#44697823)

        You're looking at the 2010 version. The version that passed replaces that line with saying that it;s not patentable if the only thing new about it is "on a computer".
        As passed, new inventions are new inventions - whether computers are involved or not.

        • Well then, not a radical improvement but still a small one. The US patent system would do well to have the same change.

        • by thoromyr (673646)

          And you are looking at the 2012 version that lacks the examples and explanations. It isn't a new invention if it is just software -- it must be part of a greater whole, such as an embedded device.

          But why take my word for it?

          https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130509/09013323019/new-zealand-bans-software-patents-as-such-tries-to-pin-down-what-earth-that-means.shtml [techdirt.com]

          • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @01:56PM (#44698273)

            The Techdirt article you've cited to try to "prove me wrong" quotes the bill as follows:

            "where the actual contribution of an invention lies solely in it being a computer program, it is ineligible for patent protection... it will not be possible to obtain a patent for an invention that involves or makes use of the computer program if the sole inventive feature is that it is a computer program".

            In other words, exactly what I said.

            • by ackthpt (218170)

              The Techdirt article you've cited to try to "prove me wrong" quotes the bill as follows:

              "where the actual contribution of an invention lies solely in it being a computer program, it is ineligible for patent protection... it will not be possible to obtain a patent for an invention that involves or makes use of the computer program if the sole inventive feature is that it is a computer program".

              In other words, exactly what I said.

              Where this gets really fun is when the argument is presented that "the program" and "the computer" are analog, rather than digital. A hole you could pilot an aircraft carrier through.

              • by fritsd (924429)
                Maybe because an analog computer is usually not a general purpose computer (except maybe for the Difference Engine [wikipedia.org], but in the picture on the Wikipedia page even that looks quite inventive to me).
            • by tragedy (27079)

              Errr, didn't you say:

              The version that passed replaces that line with saying that it;s not patentable if the only thing new about it is "on a computer".
              As passed, new inventions are new inventions - whether computers are involved or not.

              So:

              "where the actual contribution of an invention lies solely in it being a computer program, it is ineligible for patent protection... it will not be possible to obtain a patent for an invention that involves or makes use of the computer program if the sole inventive feature is that it is a computer program"

              Does not seem to be exactly what you said. It seems to be saying that computer programs by themselves, even if completely novel, are ineligible for patent protection, not just that computer programs can only be patented if the function they perform is novel.

              • by Alsee (515537)

                where the actual contribution of an invention lies solely in it being a computer program, it is ineligible for patent protection... it will not be possible to obtain a patent for an invention that involves or makes use of the computer program if the sole inventive feature is that it is a computer program

                It seems to be saying that computer programs by themselves, even if completely novel, are ineligible for patent protection

                Maybe I've spend too much time learning to read patent law (and copyright law), but I'm baffled how you think it says that. It's clearly saying the only time you can't get a patent is if the *sole* contribution is that it's a program. A "contribution" means "the new thing I'm teaching the world."

                Consider the classic software-patent-catastrophy example, the GIF patent. It is a purely mathematical contribution teaching how to convert one series of numbers (representing a picture) into a shorter series of numb

                • > And we have many in the software community cheering victory,
                  > when in fact this is a complete bait-and-switch defeat.

                  It seems to me that doing the same old thing "with a computer" is what shouldn't be patentable. On the other hand, a truly new invention should be treated as such, whether it uses wood, metal, silicon, or cat hair. An old idea is an old idea, a new invention is a new invention. That's what this law says, so I think it's a victory for common sense.

                  • by Alsee (515537)

                    That's what this law says, so I think it's a victory for common sense.

                    No. Common sense says that new-poetry is not an invention, new-movie-plots are not an invention, and new-math is not an invention. A survey of programmers found 94% of programmers saying it's not an invention. And pardon my America-centric reference here, but the U.S. Supreme Court said it's not an invention:

                    [this] Court explained the correct procedure for analyzing a patent claim employing a mathematical algorithm. Under this procedure, the algorithm is treated for 101 purposes as though it were a familiar

                • by tragedy (27079)

                  It seems like we're reading the part about the sole inventive feature being that it is a computer program a little differently, so we're coming up with different interpretations. My perspective on computer programs is that they're always implementations of some kind of algorithm or design that isn't a computer program, so there's no such thing as a solo computer program that qualifies as an invention. It just seems so intuitive and obvious to me that it's hard to understand how anyone can read it differentl

                  • by Alsee (515537)

                    My perspective on computer programs is that they're always implementations of some kind of algorithm

                    Agreed :)

                    And you'll probably appreciate this U.S. Supreme Court quote:
                    [this] Court explained the correct procedure for analyzing a patent claim employing a mathematical algorithm. Under this procedure, the algorithm is treated for 101 purposes as though it were a familiar part of the prior art; the claim is then examined to determine whether it discloses 'some other inventive concept.'

                    It just seems so intuitive and obvious to me that it's hard to understand how anyone can read it differently.

                    Yep and yep. It has been a long and painful wrapping my head around the language and logic they use. Unfortunately being ab

                  • by Alsee (515537)

                    Oh, a little clarification on the US Supreme Court and US law.

                    The Supreme Court handed down some good, but somewhat murky, rulings a few decades ago. Since then the lower courts have gone batshit insane throwing out all limitations on patentability.

                    Part of the reason is that many court cases involving a megacorp on one side demanding they be given a patent on X, and on the other side is some lawyer from the patent office arguing X isn't a valid invention. And of course the army of megacorp lawyers tends to

              • That particular clause says if the novel part is "solely in it being a computer program". "Lies solely in being" is a wordy way of saying "Only because it is", so let's make it clearer by using those clearer words which have the exact same meaningm:

                [if it's new] Only because it's a computer program ...

                So if it's "new" only because it's a computer program, it's not eligible. On the other hand, if it's new for some other reason, that's not new "solely in being a computer program", that's independent novelty

          • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:30PM (#44698563)

            > "It isn't a new invention if it is just software -- it must be part of a greater whole, such as an embedded device."

            I see how to you got that idea, but read more carefully. What the examples are intended to show is that:

            a) assume the washing machine has no new mechanics, so the washing machine is not patentable.
            b) putting a computer program into the washing machine ALSO isn't patentable. That's the point of the law.
            c) the computer chip may contain a program which IS a new invention and that program may be patentable.
            d) it's patentable not BECAUSE it's a program, it's patentable because it's a new invention - being software is irrelevant

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Check the preliminary, ie. that which takes precendence, "computer programs among the inventions that may not be patented would be unlikely to prevent the granting of patents for inventions involving embedded software". So computer programs are only not patentable if you 'WORD' your patent application incorrectly. Each and every piece of software is 'embedded' in hardware for it to function, there is not one bit of software that is not, hence software. So word you patent application like a moron and it fai

    • by MarkvW (1037596)

      Read the article closely. It's a load of bullshit.

      He's trying to spin the language "as such" to mean something, but he doesn't say what he thinks it means or doesn't mean.

      Seems to me, NZ is saying that a software--device combination might still be patentable, but a software-only patent is not patentable.

      The guy does look to be a shill.

      • by Alsee (515537)

        The 237 supplement mandates that any software passing the usual "new" and "useful" requirements MUST be patentable.

        10A Computer programs

        (1) A computer program is not an invention and not a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act.

        (2) Subsection (1) prevents anything from being an invention or a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act only to the extent that a claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as su

    • by almechist (1366403) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:02PM (#44699643)

      For crying out loud, they did indeed ban software patents, and if you don't believe me you can read all about it in that bastion of liberal OSS-using freethinkers, Forbes. Here's the link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/reuvencohen/2013/05/08/new-zealand-government-announces-that-software-will-no-longer-be-patentable/ [forbes.com] The critical part of the law is not the subsection everyone is arguing over, but what comes before it, which seems to me unequivocal about what is no longer allowed:

      "(1) A computer program is not an invention and not a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act."

      This guy Florian Mueller who may or may not be a corporate shill has got everyone confused by focusing on the legal subtleties of a subsection, but the fact remains that computer programs by themselves are no longer patentable, because the law states they are not considered to be inventions! Don't believe the FUD.

  • Crap ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:33AM (#44697017) Homepage

    So they've disallowed software patents, but allowed more extensive spying. Dammit New Zealand, you need to pick one.

    Though, I will say that any company looking to develop software for a domestic market will be happy about this -- you likely can't export because the patents would be in place most everywhere else.

    I'm sure right now there's an entire branch of the US government planning regime change, since the US has pinned their hopes to copyright and patents. It is, however, nice to see other countries saying "what's in it for us?"

    • by tgd (2822)

      So they've disallowed software patents, but allowed more extensive spying. Dammit New Zealand, you need to pick one.

      If it makes you feel better, they didn't actually disallow software patents.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        If it makes you feel better, they didn't actually disallow software patents.

        Oddly enough, no, no it doesn't.

    • Re:Crap ... (Score:5, Funny)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @12:13PM (#44697399)

      So they've disallowed software patents, but allowed more extensive spying. Dammit New Zealand, you need to pick one.

      Apparently, the spying stuff required complicated algorithms they didn't want to pay for.

    • There's no point patenting anything in NZ anyway. By the time you've made your device the NZ government has already spied on you, taken all your IP, and passed it on to the Americans, all in the name of national security.

    • by Hairy1 (180056)

      I guess the problem for the US is that this bill was passed by almost all the house. It enjoys broad support in New Zealand among almost all political parties. Now, the situation may change; I am sure the US State Department are spitting tacks right now. They said that they don't care about the software patents issue in relation to the TPPA. Now they find out we were not bluffing. The US is still trying to act as if they have the single most important market.

      Newsflash: New Zealand entered a free trade agree

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A government does something that genuinely benefits its people.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:51AM (#44697191) Homepage

    This is really important because it's the first time that a country has explicitly banned software patents, with knowledge of what it's doing.

    Other jurisdictions have legislation which says software can't be patentable, like the European Patent Convention, but because it was written before software patents became a problem there are debates about the intention of the text.

    Thanks to New Zealand, we'll have an example of a developed economy banning software patents, so there will be proof that it doesn't make an economy collapse etc.

    More background here:
    * http://en.swpat.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Patents_Bill_235 [swpat.org]
    * http://en.swpat.org/wiki/New_Zealand [swpat.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wanted to see that Groklaw had to say about this. But thanks to the NSA etc. I can't.
    This makes me both happy (for New Zealand) and sad ...

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:59AM (#44697253)

    Since there is no such thing as a "software patent" in law, it's important to understand what has been changed, and to be clear about what could or should be changed. Here's the key wording of the new law. It's not patentable if:

          "A claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such if the actual contribution made by the alleged invention lies solely in it being a computer program."

    In other words, if it's not a new invention, just an old invention with "on a computer" added to the end, it's not patentable. That is, if it's not a new invention if made of wood, it's still not new when made of silicon (or magnetic tracks).

    I'm about as big a defender of "software patents" as you'll find on Slashdot and that to me is obviously right to me. If it's not new, it's not new.
    Putting it on a computer doesn't make it new. Duh and yay for them for explicitly stating what should be obvious.

    What they didn't change, and really can't as a practical matter, is they did not declare that a new invention magically becomes "not new" if it uses a computer.
    If I invent a way to resurrect dinosaurs ala Jurassic Park, and they key invention for doing so is a gene sequencing computer program, that's a new invention.
    The fact that I use software for it neither makes it new nor makes it "not new".

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      What they didn't change, and really can't as a practical matter, is they did not declare that a new invention magically becomes "not new" if it uses a computer.
      If I invent a way to resurrect dinosaurs ala Jurassic Park, and they key invention for doing so is a gene sequencing computer program, that's a new invention.
      The fact that I use software for it neither makes it new nor makes it "not new".

      That's the key.

      Because in the current IP framework we have, software patents are necessary. Here's an example.

      I cr

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'd add a clause that extends the implementation protection (say, by another five years) if you offer the complete source code to the public (having the source code available is a benefit for the public, therefore it makes sense to give an extra bonus). The source code would have to be published before the original 10 year period ends.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I think that the source code should have to be included as part of the patent application process. So that it can be examined to verify how novel the "invention" really is. And also to ensure that the code really does what the patent claims. The code should then be held in escrow (so as to allow them to keep it closed source for the time of the patent) and after the patent expires, the code should be available along with all the other patent documentation. A patent is of no use to the public good if nobo
          • I think that the source code should have to be included as part of the patent application process. So that it can be examined to verify how novel the "invention" really is.

            That's interesting. I think the exact opposite. I think that line of thinking, that using new code to do the same old thing makes it new, is exactly what created the problem. I think it would be better to know whether something is new by NOT mentioning if it's on a computer or not. Just say what it DOES. Does it do something new? If

            • by geekoid (135745)

              Should the metallurgy of a widget need taken into account to see if the widget is patent-able?

      • Math textbooks are not created to be enjoyed by other people, but they do have utility for other people. Yet no one would think of patenting textbooks. Copyright works just fine.

        Likewise, copyright works just fine for software. No new IP category required.

      • I think you're absolutely correct in the first part of what you said, which is why the second part makes no sense to me. You said:

        > I create a machine to do something in a new and novel fashion. I do it using mechanical parts and gears (which are an implementation detail -
        > the individual gears and such aren't really new or novel, just the way the machine works overall). I should be able to get a patent for that.

        > Now, I rip out the gears and put in motors and software to do the same thing the gear

        • by geekoid (135745)

          "It's the invention that's patented, not a particular build of it. We agree on that, right?"
          wrong. A common mistake on /.

          in a nut shell HOW the thing is down is what is patent.

          If you have a automated door opener that use pressure, and I have one that uses a motion sensor they both open the door, but that are separate patents and invention.

          Opening the door isn't patented, how the device did it was.

          Business method patents should not be allowed. That would fix the fast majority of patent issues.

      • You raise a good point. However, the utility of something that's patented is that it (ostensibly) solves a problem. It's a way for an inventor to say "I/we figured out how to do X in a way that's novel and unique to me/us". In the spirit of the patent, the actual method for solving X is detailed in such a way that its uniqueness and utility can be independently verified by experts. The actual patent application is public domain so other inventors can figure out another way to solve X or make sure they

      • How about Software Machine Patents? Treat the program as a machine, and let you patent it. Of course you must include full source code in the patent application in order to let others duplicate your work. And clearly short time periods are called for, 5 to 10 years max. Copyright is useless for software as any cross compiler can render it so different that it doesn't match yet still does the same thing.
      • by tragedy (27079)

        I create a machine to do something in a new and novel fashion. I do it using mechanical parts and gears (which are an implementation detail - the individual gears and such aren't really new or novel, just the way the machine works overall). I should be able to get a patent for that.

        Now, I rip out the gears and put in motors and software to do the same thing the gears did, except instead of a bunch of gears doing what I invented, it's a computer program replicating the functionality. Is it suddenly unpatentable just because it's software rather than hardware?

        You do realize that your machine using mechanical parts and gears and your computer program are different devices, right? See, the way patents are supposed to work is that, regardless how new and novel the function of your machine, patenting one device that performs that function isn't supposed to give you a broad patent on all means of performing that function, just on the particular device you made. If someone came along and used a different arrangement of mechanical parts and gears that gets the same res

    • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @12:41PM (#44697665)

      I made it less clear than it could be by quoting too much from the clear. This law says it's not patentable if:

      "if the actual contribution made by the alleged invention lies *solely* in it being a computer program."

      So in other words, for any alleged invention, take out the words "software" and "computer" from the description.
      Does it still sound like a new invention? If so, it's patentable. If not, it's not. It's either new or not, and it doesn't matter whether it's
      made of smashed wood or powdered iron.

      (Note that both "physical" machines and software machines can be made of either. My mom created some of her software by punching cards made of wood pulp, much as a carpenter would work wood to build some new invention. I created my first software by manipulating bits of iron to form machines.)

      • by Rob Y. (110975)

        So does that completely exclude simulations of real-world objects? Is a progress meter no longer patentable because the 'invention' is implementing a meter as a computer graphic/animation (i.e. 'on a computer')? Is Apple's scroll bounce back no longer patentable because there are real world devices that bounce when you scroll past the last item?

        If so, this is a fairly big blow against nuisance GUI patents at least.

        • I believe so, and I believe the bounce back patent is a good example - they didn't invent bouncing.

          On the other hand, a meter could display the result of some new invention. We know progress meters are almost useless, especially in software but in
          other areas as well. The fact that they've built 90% of the a new stealth fighter's parts doesn't mean the project is nearly complete, given that they've
          completed the bolts but not the computer system. If someone INVENTED a new thing to measure progress accurately

    • If I invent a way to resurrect dinosaurs ala Jurassic Park, and they key invention for doing so is a gene sequencing computer program, that's a new invention.

      No, for two reasons. First, the "gene sequencing computer program" is nothing more or less than a mathematical function transforming abstract input data to abstract output data. Mathematical functions are not new; you don't invent them, you discover them. As non-patentable subject matter, it ought to be impossible to infringe on any patent simply by describing a mathematical function to someone, whether in traditional mathematical notation or in the form of a computer program, or by evaluating it, whether m

      • I'm afraid you're entirely theory falls completely flat when you realize that gears and levers are devices for doing multiplication.
        ANY machine can be described with a mathematical function. Therefore, if you were correct that anything which can be described as a mathematical function is not patentable, machines are not patentable. Machines are patentable, and carry out functions, ergo you are mistaken.

        What is true is that one cannot patent the fundamental laws of math or other "natural laws". You can, h

        • by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:00PM (#44699617) Homepage Journal

          ...You can't patent division, you can patent the GIF method for image compression...

          I think you are mistaken here under the New Zealand law. This change means that the GIF algorithm is no longer protected by a patent. You could build a dedicated device that compresses images using the GIF algoritm and get a patent for that device but your patent wouldn't stop someone else from writing a program that uses GIF compression for doing the same thing. It also wouldn't stop someone else from making a similar device but has a different form factor, controls, etc. Your patent now only stops people from actually copying your device or copying it and making only superficial changes.

          Even more important, the New Zealand law means that the overly broad software patents that are common in the U.S. are not valid there. Extending the above example, the patent for GIF would probably be written as describing a method for compressing image data without loss. Some patent troll would then attempt to extort royalties from anyone using any lossless image compression algorithm (and even those using lossy algorithms if they thought they would win or get a settlement).

          Cheers,
          Dave

          • You are mistaken about what the NZ law says. I've quoted it several times, and other commentors have as well. The new NZ law says it's not patentable if the ONLY new thing about it is "in software". So GIF would be unpatentable only if it was previously done in hardware.

            • I am not a lawyer and, especially, not a patent lawyer. Even so, I could make a fairly strong argument that the sentence you quoted means ANY proposed patent that is strictly a "computer program" is no longer patentable. The intent may be what you are saying but the words CAN BE interpreted as meaning that no strictly software patents are allowed.

              It wouldn't be the first time that the politicians got the wording of a law wrong.

              Cheersx,
              Dave

              • Part of the court's job (here in the UK, at least, and undoubtedly therefore in NZ as well) is to decide what the legislators intended when they drew up the instrument in question - not just what the words can be argued to say. So here we have, on the one hand, a clear, unambiguous and unqualified statement that computer programs are NOT patentable, and on the other a very literal reading of part of the detailed wording that would mean that almost all programs WERE patentable (i.e. not excluded by virtue, o

    • That's right. Your gene sequencing computer program should not be patentable because it's an abstract idea. That's independent of whether you implemented that abstract idea on a computer.

      • You be right, my example may not have been the best. I haven't looked carefully at "abstract idea" and how that applies to patents (or doesn't).

        > That's independent of whether you implemented that abstract idea on a computer.

        Indeed. If it's not patentable, it's not patentable. Not if built of wood, not if built of magnetic iron dust (on a hard drive).
        If it is, it is. What one example is made from doesn't matter.

        • I haven't looked carefully at "abstract idea" and how that applies to patents (or doesn't).

          Hi, thanks for the response.

          I'm a mathematician and I honestly find a lot of the "all algorithms are math" argument to be rather weak for reasons I'd be happy to go into. I think "abstract idea" is the real issue. The best analysis of the situation that I've seen so far is Ben Klemens' "The Rise of the Information Processing Patent", the pdf of which can be found here http://www.bu.edu/law/central/jd/organizations/j [bu.edu]

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Except it doesn't. IN the US, you can add to an existing patent. If that addition is it's ot all done in software thats fine, and how it should be.

      Software patents parent the problem. Method patents are, and software patent issues are a symptom of that issue..

      Are you saying a digital clock isn't an improvement of a analog clock?

      You might a well say anti-gravity cars aren't patenable because we have cars.

    • by cundare (1141279)
      >Since there is no such thing as a "software patent" in law, it's important to understand what has been changed, and to be clear about what could or should be changed. Here's the key wording of the new law. It's not patentable if: "A claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such if the actual contribution made by the alleged invention lies solely in it being a computer program."

      >In other words, if it's not a new invention, just an old invention with "on a computer" added t

      • Yes and no. You called that a "landmark case" this year, suggesting that it was previously unclear, and would remain unclear in cases not clearly bound by Bank.

        A REASONABLE reading of US statute would be to realize that it says "novel invention", nowhere does it say "on a computer". Therefore, people with reading comprehension problems think that means either a) doing the same old thing is patentable if you add the words "on a computer" or b) brand new inventions are not patentable if they are on

  • by Anonymous Coward

    inb4 all patents are Imaginary Property.

  • i would like to import these and similar politicians that actually work to make things better for people rather than corporations to the US. even if everything else they do is horrible, i dont see how they could possibly fuck up the US more than our won politicians have.

  • RMS could now move to New Zealand - the first country to ban software patents. Or he could move to China, where software patents are banned by de-facto practice - w/ every company happily copying whatever they feel like.
  • Oh Oh (Score:1, Interesting)

    The cost of MS office site licenses, adobe photo shop and a swack of other US written software just went up in New Zealand. Considering Microsoft cannot patent the essential xml word processing core that locks in cloud based MS office users and neither can the cloud xml routines in Photo Shop that lock the customer to both Microsoft and Adobe for off site file storage and or remote processing routines. This was how this whole thing started with Microsoft applying to patent the cloud xml hooks in Word and N
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WillAffleckUW (858324)

      Nobody uses MSFT anymore. They just use open source software suites.

      At least in New Zealand.

      (caveat - I am a published author in New Zealand and Australia under another legal name)

      • by knidu (857300)
        um, no... the standard is still Microsoft Office here At least in business, government and tertiary education in New Zealand
  • Does this law prevent a "computer product" patent "comprising" a recordable medium containing instructions that when executed by a computer processor perform the steps of: a) [do some obvious stuff] b) [do some more obvious stuff] c) [do some more stuff people didn't both writing down on paper b/c it was so damn obvious to anyone in the field] Just wondering... (PS: for those who don't know patent lingo, the preamble in my first sentence is how patent agents in some countries get around "computer program"
    • Does this law prevent a "computer product" patent "comprising" a recordable medium containing instructions that when executed by a computer processor perform the steps of: a)
      do a software emulation of the non-obvious stuff this hardware did.

      That's the wording the company's (US) patent lawyers hung on the end of my hardware patents, to keep people from emulating them in FPGAs or software on a really fast processor.

  • And that isn't all (Score:4, Informative)

    by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:07PM (#44699703)

    Here is the list of what can not be patented -
    Clause 13 - Patentable inventions
    An invention is a patentable invention if the invention, so far as claimed in a claim,—
    (a)is a manner of manufacture within the meaning of section 6 of the Statute of Monopolies; and
    (b)when compared with the prior art base—
    (i)is novel; and
    (ii)involves an inventive step; and
    (c)is useful; and
    (d)is not excluded from being a patentable invention under section 14 or 15.

    Section 14 - Inventions contrary to public order or morality not patentable inventions
    (1)An invention is not a patentable invention if the commercial exploitation of the invention, so far as claimed in a claim, is contrary to—
    (a)public order (which in this section has the same meaning as the term ordre public as used in Article 27.2 of the TRIPS agreement); or
    (b)morality.
    Examples
    The commercial exploitation of the following inventions is contrary to public order or morality and, accordingly, those inventions are not patentable:
    an invention that is a process for cloning human beings:
    an invention that is a process for modifying the germ line genetic identity of human beings:
    an invention that involves the use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes:
    an invention that is a process for modifying the genetic identity of animals that is likely to cause them suffering without any substantial medical benefit to human beings or animals, or an invention that is an animal resulting from such a process.
    (2)For the purposes of subsection (1), commercial exploitation must not be regarded as contrary to public order or morality only because it is prohibited by any law in force in New Zealand.
    (3)The Commissioner may, for the purpose of making a decision under this section, seek advice from the Mori advisory committee or any person that the Commissioner considers appropriate

    Section 15 - Other exclusions
    (1)Human beings, and biological processes for their generation, are not patentable inventions.
    (2)An invention of a method of treatment of human beings by surgery or therapy is not a patentable invention.
    (3)An invention of a method of diagnosis practised on human beings is not a patentable invention.
    (3A)A computer program is not a patentable invention.
    (4)A plant variety is not a patentable invention.

    (5)For the purposes of subsection (4), plant variety has the same meaning as that given to the term variety in section 2 of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.

    So if I am reading this right, not only are software patent trolls throwing a fit, but Monsanto probably is to

  • even the basics of what can be patented:
    "invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine,
    manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.""

    Start here:
    http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/general_info_concerning_patents.pdf [uspto.gov]

  • As a NZ developer, this news makes me sooooooooooooooooooo happy. That is all.
  • by chrismcb (983081) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:35PM (#44700801) Homepage
    "So what are you in for?"
    "I patented some software..."
  • If software innovations do not have patent protection, then they still have trade secret protection. This is a good thing because it takes care of the non-obvious problem that many current patents fail. If an innovation is truly an innovation, then it should be hard to implement. As long as the innovation is non-obvious it will be hard to implement and trade secret protection will give companies the protection they need for their innovation.

  • Im sick and tired of hearing about patent dispute over software when software should never fall under patent laws. Software should only ever fall under copy right laws

All warranty and guarantee clauses become null and void upon payment of invoice.

Working...