Patents Bill down to the wire this afternoon

Second reading of Patents Bill at the top of Parliament's Order Paper

After failing to pass last night and briefly dropping to ninth place on Parliament’s provisional Order Paper, the Patents Bill is first on the final version of the Order Paper, filed this morning.

The drop raised suspicion of some last-minute negotiation outside the House, but opposition ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said this morning any such discussion had not involved her.

It was possible that the Bill’s sponsor, Commerce Minister Craig Foss, was taking further advice- possibly “confusing advice”, Curran said - from officials at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The second reading of the Bill, with its controversial clause declaring “a computer program is not a patentable invention”, will be debated this afternoon and will have the support of the Labour Party through second reading, Curran says, though this may not extend through subsequent Committee stage and third reading.

Regardless of any rumours of offline discussions, a spokesperson in Foss’s office said the minister’s Supplementary Order Paper would be put to Parliament unchanged. This deletes the “computer program” clause and substitutes a weaker provision confining exclusion from patent to the “computer program as such”.

Curran has filed an SOP amending Foss’s clause to remove the “as such” provision and specify that the exclusion “does not prevent an invention that makes use of an embedded computer program from being patentable”.

“Mine is the ‘elegant solution’, to use a phrase from John Key,” Curran says. The Prime Minister applied that phrase to his suggested resolution of the question of Maori water rights.

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