New Zealand passes law tossing out software patents

Aug. 29, 2013 at 7:15 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- After years of debate and intense lobbying, New Zealand has passed a new patents bill lawmakers say will effectively outlaw software patents.

Modernization of patent laws marked a "significant step towards driving innovation in New Zealand," Commerce Minister Craig Foss said.

"By clarifying the definition of what can be patented, we are giving New Zealand businesses more flexibility to adapt and improve existing inventions, while continuing to protect genuine innovations," Foss said.

The nearly unanimous passage of the bill was hailed by many IT professionals, ZDNet reported, with Institute of IT Professionals Chief Executive Paul Matthews calling it a significant milestone "where old law met modern technology and came out on the side of New Zealand's software innovators."

"The patents system doesn't work for software, because it is almost impossible for genuine technology companies to create new software without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents that exist, often for very obvious work," Matthews said.

"Today's historic legislation will support our innovative technology industry, and sends a clear message to the rest of the world that New Zealand won't tolerate the vexatious practice of 'patent trolls,'" he said.

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