Evaluation of patent airway
Evaluating submissions on software patents*
The Ministry of Economic Development recently made submissions on the software patents restrictions publicly available. The submissions to however provide a useful glimpse at the arguments used. This article examines one of those submissions.
Assessment of a pro-software patent submission
The Airways Corporation (Airways) is a state-owned enterprise which operates New Zealand’s air traffic control systems. It spends many millions of dollars and long time periods developing software. Its submission contains a few statements which I feel are worth examining. Their submission sheds light on a few aspects of the purported benefits of software patents.
Airways’ views on software patents generally
Paragraph 17 contains Airways’ two purported benefits to software patents. The first is that
[Software patents allow] New Zealand businesses to see a return … without fear of overseas or
local competitors in effect stealing their research and selling a competing product [emphasis added]
Patent law does not restrict itself to cases of theft. A software patent would prevent every third party from independently developing and commercialising that software. Other intellectual property rights are much more suited to the case of theft. Trade secrets and copyright are much better placed to deal with this case.
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