ACTA and FTA unrelated – Yeah Right

The ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and Free Trade Agreement negotiations are apparently not linked (ACTA not linked to free-trade agreement, say officials). We should be highly sceptical of this claim and pay very close attention to the precise words used by the officials making this denial. Remember how Clinton did not have “sex” “with” “that woman”? The statement was arguably not false if you used very particular meanings for the words. The same probably applies here. It is extremely likely that negotiators will be aware that pleasing the US in one area of negotiation may have an impact on others and act accordingly. It is hard to imagine how it could be otherwise.

Follow-up 19 Apr 2010 – Yeah Right is also the response of a local IP lawyer No ACTA-free trade link? ‘Yeah right’, says IP lawyer.

Posted in IP

Please sign the Wellington Declaration petition

Here is the email I sent to some friends, family, and colleagues recently:


Sorry to email you out of the blue like this but I thought the Wellington Declaration might be of interest to you. It is also very important and won’t take a moment.

Here is the petition:

Here is the declaration:

Please sign the petition. Why? Because the exciting future offered us by the Internet (think of everything that could come after Trademe, Amazon books, Youtube, Wikipedia, Google Earth, Streetview, iTunes etc) is under threat by an excessive focus on the commercial interests of Big Media. Some multinationals would happily cripple the 21st century for their own gain and they need to be stopped before it is all locked up in binding international treaties.

Here is part of the text of my submission to the Ministry of Economic Development:

Excessive enforcement of “rights” will hinder innovation – PSAL believes that overly zealous enforcement of intellectual property “rights” could have a chilling effect on innovation. As a society, we will gain more if we let new technologies develop on a loose leash. Letting representatives of old industries shape the direction of the new is like letting stagecoach and railroad interests control the development of the automobile industry.

In the late 19th Century, the introduction of the automobile resulted in opposition from special interest groups, including railroad corporations and stagecoach lines. These interests promoted legislation to regulate operation of motorized vehicles and prompted lawmakers to impose command and control policies under the guise of safety, with which to regulate behavior of, and impose nonpecuniary costs upon the motorists driving the new machines. [emphasis added]

In the United Kingdom, the Red Flag Law, a policy requiring self-propelled vehicles to be led by a pedestrian, waving a red flag or carrying a lantern, to warn bystanders of the vehicle’s approach.(

ACTA could be the Red Flag Law for modern times.

Some of these issues are complex but if you don’t have time to explore them thoroughly please sign the petition while it still counts.

Why mightn’t you already know about this if it’s so important? Because most of the ACTA negotiations are being conducted in secrecy and the media is ambivalent about the whole issue.

All the best, Grant

Posted in IP

Software patents are a proven bad idea

Software patents are a proven bad idea. Yes, you read that correctly – a “proven” bad idea. There is no need to speculate or philosophise. A brief look at history will suffice. The software industry experienced decades of innovation before software patents existed and we have had decades to observe their impact since they were introduced. The results are in – they don’t work. Here are some snippets and links which explain why (new links will be added over time):

So it’s not that software patents are a necessary evil that realists learn to accept – they aren’t good at all. And the sooner we roll them back internationally the better.

Posted in IP