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NZCS: ICT profession supports patent removal

The independent body representing ICT professionals has come out in strong support for the Commerce Select Committee's recommendation to remove software patents.

Last week the New Zealand ICT said that a Select Committee recommendation to abandon software patents is "worrying for New Zealand". NZICT Chief Executive Brett O’Riley said that the country’s software development sector deserves the same protection as others.

The New Zealand Computer Society polled its members and found that 81% supported the recommendation to remove Software from the Patents Act.

NZCS Chief Executive Paul Matthews said, “This is a big issue for the ICT sector. And whilst not scientific, this poll clearly backs up previous consultation showing widespread support from the ICT sector for the removal of software patents.”

 He continued, “There are a number of reasons for and against software patents, however on balance the Society, and indeed the majority of the ICT profession, believes they are  harmful to the innovation of the ICT sector and New Zealand as a whole.”

The society has written to Commerce Minister Hon Simon Power outlining some of the reasons for supporting the Select Committee’s recommendations.

“The Society strongly supports the concept of Intellectual Property and Copyright, and the right to protect property and gain commercial advantage from the creation and sale of software”, Matthews added. “However this has to be weighed against the significant damage software patents cause innovation and the far more appropriate protection provided under Copyright law.

“Protecting software is important. In the same way that protecting movies, books and songs is important. However these all rely successfully on Copyright law, rather than Patent law, for protection. It would be ludicrous to allow patents in these areas, just as it’s illogical to allow software patents.”