Congress Trying To Make It Legal To Ignore Tax Planning Patents

from the wrong-approach dept

We’ve written a few times about the rush to patent various tax strategies. That, by itself, should be evidence enough of some of the problems with the patent system. However, rather than deal with those larger problems, it appears that our Congressional Representatives are trying to take the cheap way out: creating a special exemption that would exempt taxpayers and tax preparers from risking infringement should they use any of these “patented” tax strategies. While this bill may be well-intentioned, like the attempt to allow banks to ignore a questionable patent on check scanning, it’s the wrong approach. Rather than dealing with the root causes of problems with the patent system, these bills look to paper over the manifestations of those problems. In the long run, such laws (if they become law) would only make the system worse. It’s nice that Rep. Rick Boucher (who often is on the right side when it comes to intellectual property issues) recognizes that tax preparation patents are a problem — but this isn’t the way to solve them.

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Comments on “Congress Trying To Make It Legal To Ignore Tax Planning Patents”

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24 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

“We’ve written a few times about the rush to patent various tax strategies. That, by itself, should be evidence enough of some of the problems with the patent system.”

Why are tax strategy patents “evidence…of some of the problems with the patent system.”?

“…deal with those larger problems…”

What larger problems?

“…attempt to allow banks to ignore a questionable patent on check scanning…”

Why is that patent questionable?

“…root causes of problems with the patent system…”

What are these root causes you mention?

“…Rick Boucher (who often is on the right side when it comes to intellectual property issues…”

How can one tell is someone is on the “right” side as opposed to the “wrong” side?

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re:

“How can one tell is someone is on the “right” side as opposed to the “wrong” side?”

It’s actually quite easy when one pulls one’s head out of one’s ass.

“Why are tax strategy patents “evidence…of some of the problems with the patent system.”?”

Why would you be able to patent a tax strategy? How can you patent a strategy?

“What larger problems?”

That the patent system is far to easily abused at the moment?

“What larger problems?”

The linked to article makes a vary good argument for that

“What are these root causes you mention?”

Like patents aren’t being reviewed by anyone that actually knows what the patents are about. The patents are overly broad and cover things far outside what the original “invention” was. The patents are used on items that were created by others long before the patent was filed. The list goes on.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Broad generalisations like what? Like the patent system is too easily abused at the moment? Like it’s too easy to get an overly broad patent that covers devices not thought up in the inventing process? Like the fact that the patent system was never intended to protect a strategy?

I may not be siting specific patents but the simple fact that you can patent a tax strategy should point to at least one problem that will probably lead to others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It is not a “strategy”, but a “method”, and methods are specified as being within the scope of the patents laws.

If anyone thinks it is easy to get a patent, they have likely never gone through the process. If there is a problem with examining patent applications, it primarily lies with the quantity and quality of information available to patent examiners for them to determine the prior art and consider the patent’s claims accordingly.

Jason (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Inasmuch as we’re talking about a process of tax planning and preparation, one of two things is going on – both of which invalidate any tax strategy/method as patentable:

1. It involves some aspect of game theory, as such, whatever is inventive about it is reduced to strategy, and therefore cannot be reduced to practice, ergo not patentable.
OR
2. It involves no game theory and is nothing more than a the result of a long, methodical process of optimization within an already existing, defined, codified, and volumized system of constraints, which means any qualified accountant could derive the same constraints and perform a duplicate process of optimization, and therefore it fails to be non-obvious, ergo not patentable.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Face Time

Last night I was listening to talk radio. Evidently, the Mayor of Los Angeles was able to get a quickie certification to perform marriages so he could grandstand the “first” gay marriage in Los Angeles. Needless to say, someone who actually jumped through all the hoops to obtain a marriage certification stated how irritated he was by this “short-cutting”.

Politicians claim to tackle the “big” issues, but as Mike and the other posters have pointed out the politicians are not really interested in solving our problems. They simply project an appearance that they are being proactive so they can look good (face time) before a constituency. Smoke and mirrors.

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