It's no secret that we have some problems with the way the patent system is set up, especially when it comes to things like business method patents. However, sometimes a situation comes along that so perfectly explains the problems with these types of patents, there's just not much to add. John Bennett at Against Monopoly points us to a NY Times/International Herald Tribune piece that talks about the rise of patented tax strategies. Yes, certain financial firms are patenting their tax strategies, and then claiming no one else can use them to reduce their taxes. In one case, a financial firm has actually sued the chairman of Aetna for daring to use its strategy to reduce taxes. The IHT article claims that 50 tax reduction patents have been granted and many more are pending. A recent article in Fortune claimed that there are another 81 tax reduction patents pending. That Fortune article points out why this is patently ridiculous: "tax advice hinges on interpretations of the law and... the law should be available to everyone equally, without the need to pay a licensing fee." Not so in our wonderful world of patents.
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