Friday, October 20, 2006
Interesting article in today's New York Times: You Can’t Use That Tax Idea. It’s Patented., by Floyd Norris:
As the American tax law gets more and more complicated, lawyers have come up with one more way to make life difficult for taxpayers: Now you may face a patent infringement suit if you use a tax strategy someone else thought of first.
“I can’t even imagine what it will be like in 5 or 10 years,” said Dennis B. Drapkin, a tax lawyer with Jones Day in Dallas, “if anytime a lawyer or accountant gives tax advice, they have to find out if there is a patent on this.” He notes that researching patents, and then licensing them, would just make tax compliance more costly....
Why would Congress pass a law allowing such a thing? The answer is that it did not. But a federal appeals court ruled in 1998 that business methods can be patented, and since then the Patent Office has issued 49 tax-strategy patents, with many more pending.
For prior TaxProf Blog coverage, see: