Owning IP not in public interest

The State Services Commission says government agencies should not muscle-in on the private sector by trying to on-sell ICT systems developed for them by suppliers.

The stance has been slammed by a consultant, who calls it a huge missed opportunity.

The commission says Cabinet guidelines recommend that government agencies ensure other agencies can use know-how developed for them without paying extra. But "commercialisation of intellectual property resulting from agencies' ICT contracts is best carried out by the commercial sector".

Deputy commissioner Laurence Millar says agencies have tended to assume it is in the public's interest for them to own intellectual property, but this may inadvertently restrict opportunities to exploit that IP and "limit incentives for innovation".

Departments have previously mooted selling the IP behind the failed Incis computer system and Land Information's $141 million Landonline computer system.

In 2003, a group of public and private sector IT managers convened ICTX, which called on the Government to work with suppliers to on-sell its ICT systems. ICTX said this could help the Government achieve its goal of doubling the contribution the ICT sector made to economic activity, to 10 per cent of GDP.

Warwick Jones, ICTX's spokesman at the time, calls the guidelines a missed opportunity. "It is very sad to see, after all the work done and commercialisation opportunities lost already, that these newly-released SSC guidelines thoroughly miss the valuable option of starting new contracts with the end of sustainable commercialisation in mind."

He says entrepreneurs who have built successful international businesses and developed international IP should have been involved in helping draft them.

"New Zealand is too small as a business to carry on with the gaps we have here." 


The Dominion Post