Govt must clarify if software patents are in TPP

New Zealand’s tech sector faces an uncertain future if a hard-fought for exclusion for software patents is missing from the final text of the Trans Pacific Partnership, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said today.

“Labour and the tech sector fought long and hard to convince the government to accept that software should not be subject to patents as it stifles innovation and creativity in a fast-moving sector which spans many industries.

“But on the face of it, software has not been named as an exception to patentable inventions. The Government must urgently clarify whether it has stood up for the local industry or sold it down the river.

“It was the unanimous view of the tech sector that it is in New Zealand's best interests for software to continue to be covered through the provisions of Copyright, in the same way movies and books are, rather than through the patent system.

“This is because it’s almost impossible for software to be developed without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents awarded around the world, often for 'obvious' work.

“The law change we achieved in 2013 allows our innovators to get on with the job without the fear of prohibitive and stifling law suits being imposed by bigger multinational companies.

“It is a major concern if this is put at risk and has been traded away under the TPP. The government must publicly clarify our position in order to reassure this critical part of our economy,” says Clare Curran.