Tuesday, November 7, 2006
The ABA Tax Section has formed a task force to study patenting of tax-related advice:
Tax strategy patents are a part of business method patents, which have been growing in number since 1998, when the concept was approved by a federal circuit court. Since that time, more than 40 patents have been issued for tax-related advice, and over 60 applications are pending. Most of those patents deal with ways to reduce taxes for taxpayers. The granting of a patent by the government does not guarantee its legality – a distinction that may be confusing to consumers.
The Task Force will look closely at these issues,” said Dennis Drapkin, chair of the Tax Section’s Tax Strategy Patenting Task Force and former chair of the Tax Section. “We want to stimulate discussion and debate, and make policy makers aware of the issues involved. These developments could have tremendous implications for the tax system and for the practice of law in general.” Vice-chair of the Task Force is Loyola Law School Professor Ellen Aprill.
The task force will assist in training examiners at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) who review patent applications in the tax field, to help them identify relevant information on tax strategies. To be granted a patent, tax strategies must be considered novel, nonobvious and useful.