I’m continuously amazed about how mind-numbingly stupid and outright ignorant Tim Groser is in his pursuit of the TTP. This really comes through in Fran O’Sullivan’s article in the Herald this morning
He also made the point to NBR that a TPP deal will create new opportunities for New Zealand services exporters, including the rapidly expanding ICT sector which already generates nearly $1 billion in exports: “It will help make it easier for online entrepreneurs to do business across borders by reducing barriers that require exporters to invest offshore in order to do business, and by making it easier to transfer information around the TPP region.”
Let me try to make this clear enough for even a ICT industry outsider like Groser to understand. I’ve working in companies that have been exporting software for a few decades. This has been across a range of market segments from online training “games” to my code being in embedded navigation hardware.
No company I have been in has ever had problems border problems or transferring with data between the countries in the TPP. Never ever…. I suspect that is a delusional fantasy that this or some other MFAT bozo made up.
The reason that NZ ICT companies set up operations in other countries is usually to provide local sales and support structures. The timezone differences will always make that necessary because tech heads who can support complex software prefer to not work weird hours (unless they feel like it). Besides having people on the ground in key markets makes sense.
It also makes it easier to have people doing face to face accessing capital in markets that don’t just stuff money into property.
But borders? There are few borders in ICT.
In other forums Groser has dismissed concerns that NZ software and ICT entrepreneurs will find their ability to do business constrained by US-style IP protections.
Which again shows Tim Groser’s profound ignorance of the industry. We have watched the stupidity of software patent trolls in the US for many decades. As far as I can see, the US Patent and intellectual property laws that are currently in practice flying directly against the stated intent of why patents are awarded. They are meant to encourage innovation, but the reality is that they appear to do the opposite.
But to give a clear example of a basic issue that the local ICT industry doesn’t want brought here, this was on the blog of my favourite programming editor a few years ago.
In October of 2012, Uniloc USA, Inc. filed a lawsuit against SlickEdit, Inc., alleging patent infringement (U.S. patent 5,579,222) concerning a license management system.
Uniloc USA, Inc. is a patent-assertion entity or “patent troll,” i.e. a company whose sole business is to sue software companies including Adobe, Microsoft, Sony, and Symantec. It has sued more than a dozen companies over this patent.
In an unusual turn of events, after more than a year of litigation Uniloc USA, Inc. asked the Court to dismiss its own lawsuit against SlickEdit, Inc. This came a week after the court held a three-hour Markman hearing on February 13, 2014 in which SlickEdit argued that Uniloc’s patent covered far less than what Uniloc was claiming.
Make no mistake, this is a BIG win for SlickEdit in what amounts to be a David vs. Goliath scenario.
Patent infringement suits are considered extremely costly to defend against. Even in cases like this where there is no infringement, small companies are often forced to settle due to the astronomical legal fees associated with patent cases.
The only thing that is atypical about this for US ICT companies, is that it didn’t go to court. But it wasted a lot of time, and the bug fixes and feature improvements in my editor were somewhat light that year.
We need this ‘protection’ in NZ ICT like we need Tim Groser’s hearing and intellect – not at all.