Congress Happy To Knock Out Patents That Impact Financial Institutions… But Everyone Else?
from the funny-how-that-works dept
For about five years now, we’ve been discussing the ridiculous rise of “tax strategy” patents. There have been a bunch of them. Three years ago, an attempt was made by Congress to effectively dump such patents. It didn’t go anywhere. What I hadn’t realized is that this particular provision has made its way back into Congress in the current patent bill, and it seems likely that such tax strategy patents will effectively be killed off as well as one famous patent on digitally scanning checks that the big banks have been trying to get Congress to dump for years.
Make no mistake about it: these are ridiculous patents that have no business existing. So I’m happy that they’d be ditched, but I’m troubled by the fact that Congress seems to see no problem carving out such patents when they hurt financial institutions, but doesn’t do it in other cases. Senator Schumer, who is a major backer of this, highlighted the check scanning situation specifically in supporting the bill: “This is a case where one company has made a cottage industry out of extracting legal settlements by exploiting a fuzzy part of the law on patents.” But couldn’t this be said about pretty much all patent trolling? So why isn’t Congress dealing with that?
Again, it’s a good thing that Congress recognizes that there are bad patents, but it seems to only cherry pick the bad patents that harm the financial sector. In fact, when people bring up all the bad software and business method patents, all you hear is how it would be “impossible” to reasonably carve those out of the patent system. Yet, for some reason, they seem to have no problem doing that when it comes to Wall Street and other financial institutions?
Separately, highlighting just how ridiculous this is, it appears that this carve out of tax prep patents has a separate negative carve out that says it won’t apply to tax prep software patents. Think of it as the Intuit exception. Basically, you can’t patent tax preparation strategies anymore, because that hurts big financial institutions… but you can patent tax prep software, because that helps Intuit.
Instead of creating special carve outs in the patent system for big special interests with massive lobbying budgets, how about if Congress actually did its job and fixed a broken patent system to get rid of all bad patents?