When New Zealand passed the new patents bill, it was a milestone for the country's struggling software industry. With the new patents bill now a law, it would exempt software from being patented. As Clare Curren, the Labour Party's ICT spokesperson, said it was a historic moment for New Zealand's intellectual property.
Paul Matthews, chief executive of the Institute of IT Professionals, also kept a positive outlook and said the new patents bill would also help attract overseas developers to move into the technology sector of New Zealand since the software industry will be protected from litigation.
Mr Matthews noted that New Zealand is committed to protect local innovators and those in the tech sector. This makes New Zealand a good place to start and operate a tech company.
According to Mr Matthews, New Zealand has already been approached by several companies based in the U.S. that were seriously considering relocation. The new patents bill offered a strong reason for U.S.-based companies to open local offices in the country.
The passage of the new patents bill into law could also trigger growth in New Zealand's technology sector. Mr Matthews said the tech industry is "on the brink of a fairly large explosion" with companies like Orion Health and Xeros leading the way in the global arena. He also believed that the new patents bill will promote innovation and strengthen tech companies.
However, the new Patents Bill took spent five years in limbo since the groundbreaking legislation was first drafted in 2008. In 2010, the Commerce Select Committee recommended an absolute ban on all software patents. The committee's stance led to introduction of the Supplementary Order Paper which prompted a vocal clamour due to fears that software could be subject to patentability.
Despite the passage of the new patents bill, New Zealand Open Source Society's Dave Lane has warned that local developers will still need to be careful. Some ethical concerns and companies with vast resources may test New Zealand legislation to see how far the law can be bent. Mr Lane said developers should still remain vigilant despite the newfound freedom from software patents.
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