IBM and MS deciding New Zealand legislation
On May 7th and June 8th, 2010, Microsoft and IBM met privately with members of New Zealand's Ministry of Economic Development (MED). They convinced the Ministry to abandon plans to exclude software from patentability, as can be seen in the new version of the text which was finally published on 28 Aug 2012.
There was also a private exchange of emails between the MED and Microsft, IBM, and the Business Software Alliance in the month before and after the meeting, where those three organisations submitted policy documents.
Details of the 8 June meeting only emerged when lawyer Steve Lundberg accidentally posted a confidential meeting summary on his blog. Lundberg quickly deleted the blog entry, but the content was preserved in Google's cache. The emails were then published by the government in response to a request by Peter Harrison (of NZOSS) under the Official Information Act.
 The 7 May meeting
On 8 June, Microsoft's Legal Counsel wrote in an email to Rory McLeod:
I have prepared a letter setting out Microsoft's submission and also including comments from the Ministry at my meeting with Silke and Warren on 7 May.
No further details are available regarding the meeting of 7 May between Microsoft and MED. The people mentioned work for the MED; Silke Radde is in charge of IP policy and Warren Hassett is in charge of the Patents Bill.
 The 8 June meeting
The meeting was attended by five lobbyists:
- Dougal Watt, IBM
- Julie Motley, IBM
- Waldo Kuipers, Microsoft
- Brett O’Riley, CEO NZICT (pro software patent group funded by Microsft, IBM, and other mostly foreign companies)
- Peter Wren-Hilton, Pingar (an NZ SME)
The pre- and post-meeting emails involved IBM, Microsoft, NZICT, the BSA, but no contribution from Wren-Hilton of Pingar or any other NZ company. The meeting summary notes that Wren-Hilton made a statement in favour of software patents, but also notes that "it appeared that he was not actually intending to obtain patents in New Zealand".
The meeting was attended by three people from the Ministry of Economic Developement (MED):
- Rory McLeod, Director – Competition, Trade and Investment Branch
- Silke Radde, overall IP policy
- Warren Hassett, responsable for the Patents Bill
 The released emails
The government published a fifty-page PDF document containing the pre- and post-meeting email correspondance in response to a request made under the Official Information Act. The request was submitted when details of the 8 June meeting were accidentally leaked by a lawyer.
(Sorting the table by date works.)
|1||p1-3||July?||MED||Peter Harrison (NZOSS)||Cover letter for the whole document|
|2||p5||8 June||Waldo Kuipers (MS)||Rory McLeod (MED)||Email mentioning 7 May meeting.|
|3||p7-10||8 June||Waldo Kuipers (MS)||Rory McLeod (MED)||Letter endorsing NZICT policy recommendation (included)|
|4||p11-17||May||NZICT||Rory McLeod (MED)||The NZICT policy recommendation (7 pages)|
|5||p19||3 June||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||MED|
|6||p21||2 June||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||Minister Simon Power|
|7||p22-28||2 June||NZICT||Minister Simon Power||policy recommendation (7 pages, duplicate of item N°4)|
|8||p29||3 June||Warren Hassett (MED)||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||Email, and reply, agreeing to include BSA letter in 8 June meeting|
|9||p31-37||26 May||Robert W. Holleyman (BSA)||Rory McLeod (MED)||Letter with policy recommendations|
|10||p39-42||29 June||NZICT||MED||Letter with proposed next steps|
|11||p43-44||25 June||Warren Hasset (MED)||MED||Meeting summary "Note for file", says NZICT "were happy that their concerns had been met" (are software patents back?)|
|12||p45||23 June||Rory McLeod (MED)||Brent Webling (Parliament)||Email, says no change, they will implement "the Select Committee's approach"|
|13||p46||22 June||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||Rory McLeod (MED)||Email apologising for the leaked meeting report|
|14||p47||23 June||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||Rory McLeod (MED)||Email suggesting how to deal with the leak|
|15||p48||22 June||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||Rory McLeod (MED)||Email more about the leak|
|16||p49||21 June||Brett O’Riley (NZICT)||Steve Lundberg (leaker)||Email and reply where Lundberg reassures O'Riley that all the evidence is gone. [ha!]|
So, on 23 June, McLeod said there would be no change and they "would be implementing the Select Committee's approach", and on 25 June, Hassett reported that NZICT (pro-swpat) "were happy that their concerns had been met" (p44, last paragraph). There seems to be a misunderstanding somewhere.
 What they lobbied for
The result which Lundberg reported in his blog entry, was that Minister Simon Power agreed to redraft the legislative proposal to be like the European Patent Convention - which, as IBM and MS know well, equates to allowing software patents.
 Details of the key documents
(Can you help? Any help is welcome.)
 NZICT policy document
(pages 11-17, and seemingly repeated on pages 22-28)
 BSA policy document
 Meeting summary by Hassett
(pages 43-44, by Warren Hassett (MED))
 NZICT proposed next steps
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
- New Zealand govt against software patents!, 31 Mar 2010, End Software Patents
- (Discussion: Slashdot)
- New Zealand software patents victory crumbling, 23 Jun 2010, End Software Patents
- NZICT - unwarranted influence on Software Patents?, 3 May 2010, Dave Lane
- NZCS lobbies to end patent protection for software, 16 Apr 2010, Computerworld.co.nz (they should call software patents a pox, not a "protection")
- The fifty-page PDF released by the government in response to OIA request, 2010
- http://legislation.govt.nz/sop/government/2012/0120/latest/whole.html - see section 10A
- Text of the entry
- http://devcentre.org/www/oia_patents.pdf : page 5
- http://devcentre.org/www/oia_patents.pdf : Page 43, point 5
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