Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tax return controversy at USPTO??

Don't know about its accuracy, but the following appeared on Sept. 6:

U.S. Patent Office Puts Private Tax, Other Data on Public Display
Tuesday September 6, 8:00 am ET
Inventors Alarmed; National Taxpayer Advocate Promises Investigation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) makes public the tax returns and other personal information about various inventors, according to a report in today's Tax Notes magazine (and available at www.taxanalysts.com).
Warren Rojas of Tax Analysts, the publisher of Tax Notes, secured from the USPTO office in Crystal City, VA, the following for various inventors across the country:

-- Individual and joint federal tax returns;
-- Wage and withholding reports;
-- Monthly bank statements;
-- Benefit statements from the Social Security Administration;
-- Credit reports; and
-- Mortgage foreclosure warnings.

**I was unable to find the story at taxanalysts.com. Seems a bit hard to believe.


In July, 2005, as soon as the USPTO became aware of the issue - namely,
that privacy information provided by customers (mostly unsolicited, but
some in support of petition submissions) was available via the Internet
as part of a patent or trademark file, the USPTO took a number of immediate
steps to make our customers aware of the potential for identity theft
because of financial and other personal information about them that may be
in USPTO files. (See the prominent notice on the home page under top
news http://www.uspto.gov/).

In addition, the Inventors Assistance operators of the USPTO have been briefed on
this matter and have been told to make callers aware of the following:
The USPTO never requires social security numbers, bank account numbers
or credit card numbers when customers file petitions with us for delays
in paying maintenance fees or petitions to "make special" etc.

In filing documents in support of petitions, the USPTO asks that customers
delete social security numbers and other sensitive financial information
The Patent Depository Libraries have also been asked to make sure
customers understand this. The efforts of the USPTO to educate and inform its customers is also part of an on going outreach to the independent inventor
community--the people most likely to be affected by this issue. It was
emphasized at the recent annual independent inventor conference, the USPTO will
emphasize at the upcoming conference in Austin, and the USPTO has asked
Inventors Digest and other publications serving that community to spread the

Finally, Mr. Dudas has asked the Commissioner for Patents to recommend
ways in which the agency can even better ensure applicant and
petitioner privacy and confidentiality.


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