Dev

Software patents are now illegal in New Zealand

Image Credit: Jolie O'Dell/VentureBeat

“A computer program is not a patentable invention.”

Time to bust out the champagne*, neckbeards! The above statement is from a bill that just passed in New Zealand.

In a word, free software advocates have won a big battle in a small country, but the ramifications of the decision are encouraging and potentially helpful to the cause.

More relevant text from the bill:

We received many submissions concerning the patentability of computer programs. … Open source, or free, software has grown in popularity since the 1980s. Protecting software by patenting is inconsistent with the open source model, and its proponents oppose it. 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. …

[With regard to corporations fighting for proprietary software,] After careful consideration we concluded that developing a clear and definitive distinction between embedded and other types of software is not a simple matter; and that, for the sake of clarity, a simple approach would be best. We received advice that our recommendation to include computer programs among the inventions that may not be patented would be unlikely to prevent the granting of patents for inventions involving embedded software.

If we may be permitted a celebratory naughty word, hot damn!

New Zealand has sided with companies such as the so-over-patent-disputes Google and the patents-what-patents Facebook in its quest for more freedom in innovation.

In the words of one of our favorite Internet characters, “The open ability to develop new applications and try them out has been vital to the Internet’s growth and to the space in which we currently operate. … Shoot the patent lawyers.”

* Just kidding. We know you drink craft brews, not champagne.


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