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Labour accuse ministers of ‘stifling software sector’

03 Sep 2012
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Labour believes the growing New Zealand software industry has been dealt blow which will compromise and stifle its potential after the government opened the door to the patenting of computer software.

The opposition says the government’s decision makes a vital change to the patent law, which has undergone its first review since 1953.

The Patents Bill proposed to exclude computer software from being patentable, because like books, movies or music, it can be protected under copyright law.

“The last minute amendment by the Government so that software “as such” can’t be patented, but inventions that include software can be, opens the door to widespread patenting of software,” says Clare Curran, Labour communications and IT spokesperson.

“The Minister has caved in to pressure from big corporations which fear competition from smaller players.

“That’s a slap in the face to the local industry, and many innovative Kiwi software firms will now face real challenges to develop new software.

“The Minister should have stuck to his predecessor’s plan to get the Intellectual Property Office to develop guidelines for inventions that involves ‘embedded software’, or software that is built into a physical device.

“That would have been a reasonable solution which would have promoted innovation in one of New Zealand’s emerging industries.

“Labour’s policy is to enact and implement the Patent Bill excluding computer software. That will give our software innovators the best chance to succeed.”

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