Friday, October 20, 2006

Business method patents in tax area raise concerns

Further to State Street and business method patents, the International Herald Tribune raises issues with patents in the tax strategy area:

There is even one case pending in U.S. court in Connecticut, in which an organization called the Tax Strategies Group complains that John Rowe, the chairman and former chief executive of Aetna, infringed on its patent by using a certain type of trust to minimize taxes on profits from stock options. The group wants Rowe to be barred from using that strategy unless he buys a license from it.


In an article in Legal Times this week, Paul Devinsky, John Fuisz and Thomas Sykes, who are lawyers with McDermott, Will & Emery, suggested that a company might figure out a tax strategy that would save it a lot of money and then patent it. Then the company could refuse to license the patent to its competitors, thus raising their cost of doing business.

Tax patents, the lawyers wrote, amount to "government-issued barbed wire" to keep some taxpayers from getting equal treatment under the tax code.


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