New Zealand ponders software patent ban

April 7, 2010

New Zealand ponders software patent banA proposed law in New Zealand would mean software could no longer be covered by patents. It’s being hailed as a victory for the open source community.

The Patents Bill is currently going through the parliamentary process and the committee examining the legislation in detail has added a new line saying simply, “A computer program is not a patentable invention.”.

Committee members justified the addition by noting, “A number of submitters argued that there is no “inventive step” in software development, as “new” software invariably builds on existing software. They felt that computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques. In general we accept this position.”

The new law would not remove all protection from software developers. The code itself would still be covered by copyright and developers would retain the right to impose license conditions on users.

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