Is software patentable in New Zealand?
The New Zealand Patents Act specifically excludes software from being patentable subject matter. However, new software for controlling hardware is patentable.
Section 11(3) of the New Zealand Patents Act 2013 provides two examples of patentable and unpatentable software inventions.
A method implemented in software for operating a washing machine in a new and inventive way is patentable.
By contrast, a process implemented in software for completing a legal document is not patentable. The process involves presents the user with a series of questions. The software then produces a legal document using the user’s answers to the questions. However, simply automating a known process by implementing that process in a computer program to be run on a computer does not make the known process patentable.
However, a software invention that does not involve hardware outside of the computer running the software may still be patentable subject matter. For example, a software program that causes a computer to operate in a new way or to run more efficiently and effectively as a computer is patentable subject matter. A software implemented invention may be patentable subject matter even if the only output from the program is displaying information to a user via a computer screen.