Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Zealand- Blazing the trail in the anti-patent struggle

According to this New Zealand Computer Society article, software will no longer be patentable in the country. This is because 

"...they [patents] represent a far greater risk to smaller New Zealand-based software providers than opportunity, and there are many cases where they have significantly stifled innovation."

This has long been the argument of anti-patent advocates like myself. I believe people should be able to benefit from their invention and also recoup costs incurred in bringing about that invention. But the way that the capitalist machinery in many Western countries, notably the US goes about it is just harmful to small businesses.

As the article notes, young startups just cannot come up with anything without having to look over their shoulders constantly for fear of being sued for violating patents that extend beyond the imagination of the mind. The SCO group and their saber rattling at Linux is a typical example.

As I said yesterday, the future of innovation and development especially in the software realm, will be gravely affected should the current rate at which patents are doled out is not reconsidered. In any case, patents were originally devised with the noble intention of helping one recover R&D costs, not to lock out the innovation of others via the threat of lawsuits.

The intellectual properties of individuals and companies ought to be respected, but at the same time, care should be taken to ensure that innovation is not going to be stifled. Patents are doubled edged swords that can cut both ways. In other words, the adoption and promotion of the principles of Free and Open Source Software should be encouraged.

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By Seeraj Muneer with No comments

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