USPTO Deems Offshoring U.S. Tax Return Prep Jobs Worthy of U.S. Patent Protection

from the patently-silly dept

theodp writes “The CEO of Xpitax has been awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,756,761 for Tax return outsourcing and systems for protecting data, which covers ‘systems, methods, and various tools that facilitate the outsourcing of [U.S.] tax return preparation services to a servicing group outside of the country.’ There is a need, explains the patent, ‘to outsource tax return preparation services to India, to thereby reduce the per-return labor cost experienced by the accounting firm.’ The patent proposes ‘using PC anywhere or Citrix’ to help scratch that itch.

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Comments on “USPTO Deems Offshoring U.S. Tax Return Prep Jobs Worthy of U.S. Patent Protection”

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18 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

never ceases to amaze how retarded modern man is

maybe I should patent a process or machination, using or not using, natural or created components, devices, pieces, in some manner to articulate or allow natural motion or normal ways to intake and expel, natural or unnatural gas and or atmosphere to allow the normal cycle of breathing to take place within or without the human body

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

The Emperror (USPTO) has no clothes!

It’s this sort of cruft that forces one to understand that the USPTO is clueless about software, and has no business making decisions about software patents. I actually have a software patent (owned by an 800lb corporate gorilla) that, IMHO, is an innovation suitably covered by patent protection. It deals with adaptive systems and solves some fundamental problems with them that are non-obvious even to highly skilled software engineers. So, I’m not against software patents per se, but I AM against most of the software patents that the USPTO issues as the vast majority are either covered by prior art, or are such obvious solutions to trivial problems that they should have been rejected out of hand.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

“Just… Wow. Indians know our taxes better than we, the Americans?”

Chances are that they do as they will have been specifically trained in US tax return preparation. I’m fairly comfortable that I also know more then most Americans since, although I am British, I specialise in US tax return preparation as a job.

I know from our company’s experience that you need specific permission from clients under IRS regulations to outsource their return preparation to a third party in another country. I’ll be interested to see if this patent includes obtaining that permission.

Either way this patent is bogus as there is plenty of prior “art” considering many companies have been doing this for a number of years.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is one of those cases where even I am scratching my head wondering how converting a “paper process” to an “on line” process, even when tax preparation personnel are located outside the US, claims new, useful and unobvious subject matter.

Nonetheless, one needs to read the file history of prosecution before the USPTO before arriving at a meaningful conclusion as to the propriety of this patent having been issued.

It seems likely that the application that led to the patent was prosecuted to conclusion prior to both the CAFC and the Supreme Court weighing in on business method patents, and particularly since the patent does appear to fall within what is generally categozied as an “abstract idea” under then existing (and even now still existing) judicial precedent.

Frankly, and based upon my experience, this is one of those patents that would almost certainly never be asserted against third parties. Perhaps its filing and issuance was more motivated by having something to hang on an “ego wall”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let's go to the source of the problem

Vanel Frenel, as the examiner, claimed this was an invention, that was not obvious. He signed it and he believes it.

Please don’t respond that he was pressured to approve it or he would lose his job or promotion or pension. Only an criminal would knowing approve or sign a government document that wasn’t true.

Please don’t respond that he is a clueless as a rock of what innovation is, the Federal government only hires the best that want a government pension; where firing is all most impossible and civil service can protect you from the reality of the work place faced by the 30% population that pays their salary.

Vanel must have gotten it right..

Anonymous Coward says:

(Kinda off topic but related to patents)

“Astronomers are known for being relatively open with their data, and as a community, they have fairly well-established norms with respect to release of data, sharing of telescope resources, etc. Nevertheless, this does not make them immune from the occasional dispute or controversy over data sharing practices, particularly with very novel or valuable data. The New York Times reports on one of those rare occasions when disputes over data sharing norms do arise in this community–in this case over the existence of extra-terrestrial planets.”

http://sciencecommons.org/weblog/archives/2010/06/16/nasa-and-data-sharing-norms/

The reason why astronomers tend to be more open about their information, when compared to other sciences, is because most of what astronomers discover has no foreseeable short term commercial value. Who cares exactly what minerals were found on the moon and in what quantities, how can I personally benefit from this information. However, with other more useful fields secrecy tends to be more prevalent and whenever important discoveries are made, ones that humanity would tend to consider more significant, secrecy again tends to prevail.

One alleged purpose of patents is to encourage transparency; however, note the reality of the matter is very different. Patents seem to do little to actually promote openness and instead encourage the acquisition of frivolous monopoles by entities that have spent little to nothing on R&D, such as patent trolls.

To quote PatentFreedom

“As of April 1, 2010, PatentFreedom has identified and profiled over 325 distinct NPEs (a number which continues to increase). Since 1985, these NPEs have been involved in litigation with nearly 4,500 different operating companies in over 3,100 actions. And the pace of activity is clearly increasing. Nearly 75% of the suits between these NPEs and operating companies were filed since 2003.”

https://www.patentfreedom.com/research.html

These are entities that have conducted no R&D and have contributed nothing beyond their ability to restrict others of their rights.

Patents should at least encourage people to invest in their inventions and invest substantial sums of money in new R&D instead of merely monopolizing ideas that others can independently come up with based on existing R&D. but patents don’t serve a noble cause, they only sere the purpose of restricting invention and innovation for personal gain.

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