Tech law news 9 April 2010

Proposal to ban software patents irks patent attorneys…

Two patent-specialist law firms have criticised the Commerce Committee’s recommendation to ban software patents in New Zealand (read here and here). Both express surprise that the Committee appears to have accepted submissions by open source proponents, as if that alone is reason not adopt the report. The articles do not accurately represent this arguments, in my view, and the New Zealand Open Source Society has now provided a response.

While another says “stop wasting money on patents”

US intellectual property lawyer Erik Heels writes:

In most cases, filing a patent application is a waste of time and energy. Especially for startups. Your money and time would be better spent hiring programmers, marketers, and a sales force.

This is good advice for New Zealand businesses, especially tech start-ups. As Erik says, it can make sense in some cases, but at least consider the definite immediate opportunity costs versus the possible future benefits (and hidden costs to attain those benefits) of seeking a patent.

Historical legislation online

The Parliamentary Counsel Office has begun digitising historical legislation dating back to 1841, to be provided free online. Historical legislation doesn’t only have historical interest value, it can also have practical uses – such as providing a comparison to assist interpretation of current laws. While the first step involves simply scanning the old legislation (including the “shattering statutes“), longer term the plan is to OCR the documents into the excellent New Zealand Legislation website.