Pirate Party Australia has recently made a submission to the Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) in its review of the Innovation Patent System[1]. The submission calls for a complete overhaul of the patent system to reflect the needs of contemporary society, and the rapid advances in technology[2].

There are significant issues with the patent system. The loudest and most consistent voice of opposition to patents on software for instance are those most effected by them, software programmers. Pirate Party Australia continues to demand that software is completely excluded from any type of patentability. Software patents are a huge impediment to innovation. The only people benefiting from the current situation are patent lawyers as they ply their trade exploiting the boom in unproductive and innovation stifling litigation.

This is clearly demonstrated with the patent war currently being waged between Apple and Samsung, with both filing claims the other has breached patents. Meanwhile consumers suffer as products like the Galaxy S are pulled from the shelves while teams of lawyers battle it out. Even basic functions on mobile devices are patented. Apple was recently awarded a patent on the slide to open function, showing just how trivial such patents can be.

Software developers run the risk being sued for breach of patent with every new piece of code, because they would need teams of lawyers to investigate every single functionality or risk being taken to court. This system is unsustainable, overly complex and needs to be abandoned immediately.

“Only large corporations are genuinely interested in such strict enforcing of  patents. Competition is not a good thing according to them. There is no incentive for improvement unless a similar product can be made that is superior and cheaper. Competition is the basis of the free market economy. Patents not only hurt business, but they hurt the consumer by disallowing access to a range of options,” said Mozart Palmer, spokesperson for Pirate Party Australia.

“The Australian Government talks up the importance of local innovation and job creation, then  straps us into a patent system that stifles innovation and lobotomises local industry. There will come a time when innovation is no longer  possible due to innovation itself being patented,” said David Campbell, President-elect of Pirate Party Australia.

“Patents are intended to recompense inventors for their efforts in developing  products and methods that will benefit society. This is clearly not being achieved when patents for everything and anything are being granted.”

In addition to strongly opposing software patents, the Party continues to oppose patents on genetic material and living organisms, which are not only extremely harmful to innovation but also raise a wider ethical debate. The Party also recognises that there are significant issues with the system of pharmaceutical patents and call for a global initiative to find alternative mechanisms for funding biomedical research.

[1] http://www.acip.gov.au/reviews.html#patsys
[2] http://pirateparty.org.au/media/submissions/PPAUPatentIssuesPaperSubmission.pdf

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