While NZ Computer Society CEO Paul Matthews is adamant that there is no firm evidence that the Patents Bill has been “put on ice” owing to negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPPA), he says the possibility must give cause for concern.
The Bill, which started its passage in 2008, still languishes well down Parliament’s Order Paper, awaiting consideration of the Commerce Select Committee’s report, followed by the Bill’s second reading.
US TPPA negotiators are known to be pushing hard against New Zealand’s decision to remove software from the realm of patent and also appear to have reservations about the protection and pricing of pharmaceuticals in this country, Matthews says.
The longer the Bill remains in stasis (it slipped two places on the Order Paper, from 47 to 49 between Monday [April 2] and Thursday [April 5]), the more worrying the delay becomes and the more nagging the impression that TPPA is a factor, Matthews says.
Asked directly whether TPPA was a cause of the delay, Trade Minister Tim Groser last week replied by email through a spokesman : “Progress on the Patents Bill is dependent on the wider legislative programme.” He did not, however, directly answer the TPPA point.
“It’s time to put this one to bed and give the [ICT] industry the confidence and security it wants on patent,” Matthews says.
Earlier industry comment on the Patents Bill delay is contained in Computerworld’s print edition, to be published on Tuesday April 10.