Monday, July 4, 2011

Mirror mirror on the wall

Last week we received confirmation of something I have been voicing for a while.  The Patents Bill 2008 is going nowhere under this Government.  It is sitting on the Parliamentary Order Paper awaiting a second reading.  It is likely to stay that way for a while.

Parliamentary Commerce Select Committee member Clare Curran put a Parliamentary question to Commerce Minister Simon Power.  She had concerns that the Patents Bill would not come back before the election in November.  She was concerned the legislation would come back under a different watch.  She asked for Power’s views on that.

Power agreed it was a complex issue.  The Committee had asked him to look into guidelines around these issues.  Officials were currently working on those guidelines but some of the issues were not straightforward.  He said it was ultimately a matter of legislative priority.

I have commented in an earlier blog post about the guidelines for computer programs and the rejection of them by New Zealand innovators.

Later at a NetHui Attorney-General Chris Finlayson is reported to have “agreed that the Bill was almost certain not to pass into law in the remaining few weeks of the current term”.

Why do some members of the Parliamentary Commerce Select Committee need constant reassurance that they acted fairly when they inserted the controversial amendment to exclude computer programs from patentability?

Why are they seeking those reassurances from a Minister who will be retiring after the election in November?

The status quo remains in New Zealand for the foreseeable future.  The situation now is not too different from that set out in my 1997 article.  Computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patent protection.

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