Giving the government more credit. Twice in once day. Phew.
Now don’t let your eyes glaze over just because I’m talking about patents! I’m giving the government credit so listen up.
The Patents Bill, which is about to come back before the House for its second reading was originally crafted in 1953 it was long overdue for a redraft.
One of the most interesting changes to the Bill is a proposal to exclude computer software from being patentable, on the basis of it being, like books or movies or music, based on a concept and receiving protection under copyright.
The Commerce Select Committee recommendation came after receiving many submissions on the issue. The Committee heard many arguments about the rights and wrongs of patenting software. One of the major arguments was that patenting computer software will stifle innovation in New Zealand.
At present software can be patented so long as it produces a “commercially useful step”.
But the committee, chaired by Hon Lianne Dalziel, said that it accepted that software invariably built on existing software and that software patents were often granted for “trivial or existing techniques.”
Imagine if a piece of music was patented and you could therefore not use the notes in that piece of music.
Despite subsequent criticism of the committee’s recommendation by organisations representing large software patenters, Commerce Minister Simon Power has said the government will back the committee’s changes on this issue.
Power says the issue is not simple or straightforward. “However, the Government believes the committee has dealt with the issue in a sensible manner and has found a reasonable solution.”
The Government would support a select committee recommendation that the Intellectual Property Office develop guidelines for inventions that involve “embedded software” — software that is built into a physical device. Software will still be protected by copyright, which prevents outright copying.
That’s sensible and even a bit visionary and I think it’s the right decision.
Hope you managed to read this far.