NZ government is about to pass a new Patents Act. In the 8-year review, they seemingly forgot to consider the impacts of patents on computer software! Submissions on the bill are being accepted till 2 July, so we need to move fast. Make a submission now!
There are many reasons why software patents are bad. End Software Patents wiki website is a good resource for examples, evidence and more details of these reasons, but some generalised issues are:
- Harm to standards
- Stifle innovation
- Lower software quality and raise prices
- Freedom of expression
- Remove useful software from the market
- Harm SMEs
- Prevent competition and entrench monopolies
- Patent trolls, or "parasites"
- Used for sabotage rather than competition, sometimes called "business weapons"
- All businesses are targets
- Jobs and skills
- Incompatible timespans
- Costs of the patent system to governments
- Quality of software patents is particularly bad
The New Zealand page at the End Software Patents wiki has details about the bill that is being reviewed and links to more details. There is also a template submission that could use some more eyes and more review. Head over there and make a submission now. It will only take you a few minutes to customize the template with your details and email it away!
While on the topic of free software in NZ politics, the Green party advocates free software and even understands the issues of software patents: Green party MP Kevin Hague was the only MP to mention software in the first reading of the Patents bill in parliamant. The Greens are also heavy users of Drupal and CiviCRM.