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Long Awaited Patent Law Revamp Passes

A revamp of patent legislation has passed into law after a long and fraught gestation.

The Patents Bill passed its third reading by 117 to 4 with the Maori Party and Mana opposing, ending a saga which at one point had Labour and National at loggerheads over the whether the bill would allow computer programmes and the code that makes up the software to be patented.

The Patents Bill was originally introduced by the Labour Government in 2008 and was reported back from select committee in 2010.
There was wide agreement with the version of the bill reported back, but it sat on the books until Commerce Minister Craig Foss produced an SOP intended to allay concerns it might breach WTO conventions.

Labour MPs feared the suggested addition of the words “as such’’ to the end of a clause stating “a computer program is not a patentable invention’’ to the bill will make software and code patentable.

A year later and the minister now responsible Craig Foss told Parliament the parties and the sector had found agreement.

Foss told Parliament it was important that the patent system was modernised, but also to ensure that it did not allow too broad a patent to be granted and there was a balance between protecting intellectual property rights and the public, but he was adamant that there would be no changes to the current status of the patentability of computer programmes.

Current patent law was restricting innovation through patents being granted for things that should not be so protected.

The issue around the “as such” wording had been clarified through using English case law.

Clare Curran said Labour would support the bill which marked an historic day for the intellectual property sector, which would be freed up the new framework.

After the vote the House adjourned for dinner and following the break MPs will begin the committee stage and third reading of the Financial Markets Conduct Bill

Still lift in the Urgency motion are the first readings and the referral to select committee of:

Student Loan Scheme Amendment Bill (No 3)

Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill

Victims' Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill

Border Processing (Trade Single Window and Duties) Bill

Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill

Second Reading debate on:

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill

Victims of Crime Reform Bill

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