2006/10/23

Pay Your Taxes, Get Sued, Then Pay The Royalties

So let me start by saying that I don't think much of business process patents--bunch of hooey designed to help lawyers to make more money from their corporate clients. But now a new kind of BPP, the tax strategy patent, endangers your ability pay Uncle Sam what you owe him.

Imagine...you want to take advantage of a new tax rule. So you go to your financial advisor and ask her/him about it. The first thing you find is that your advisor has doubled her/his rate to cover the cost of doing patent investigations. Next, after you pay your taxes, you get a friendly missive from the law firm of Dewey, Cheatim, and Howe informing you that you're in violation of their client's patent. But do they want to sue you? Not at all. What they really want is for you to pay a royalty for access to the patent...say...50% of what you saved on your taxes. In fact, in an extreme example, just exercising the tax rule with no methodology could get you in trouble. Remember that, despite being reviewed by the US Patent Office, tons of spurious business processes and dubious inventions are patented every day, and unless they're challenged lawyers will do whatever they can to make money from them.

The only way to stop this nonsense is to do away with the notion of business process patents, and we need to do it soon before some enterprising corporation gets it in their head to patent the notion of paying your taxes in the first place: "Sir, we'll just take that refund of yours as the royalty for using our 'paying your taxes on time' process."

5 Comments:

It might be cheaper to just pay your taxes without consulting with a financial analyst by simply referring to the IRS's tax code online. If you make a mistake and get charged a penalty, it would probably be cheaper than dealing with a middle-man. Of course, it might also result in overpaying your taxes. Grrr...
I'm always leery anytime I hear the word "Process" used as a noun or modifier. It's usually just a way to obfuscate & expand a simple idea. Gov't types use it a lot, as in "the peace process". It's a good action verb, though, as in "Process this, MF". ~~ D.K.
Kathy, D.K., I'm amazed that anyone gets away with a "business" process patent on this. Clearly this is a different realm, and since the rules are determined by the governement anyway, a case could be made that anything derived from the tax code should be in the public doman.
I see a whole growth industry in privatization of traditionally public activities. The Law, for instance. WHY NOT patent tax law? The Resmuglicans have been using it so successfully, why shouldn't their lawyers and accountants, who do the real work, make something from it besides their usual $250 an hour? How is anyone supposed to live on that?

Why, the possibilities are endless. "Robocop" showed us a future of privatized policing. Why not a private Navy? Arrrrr, why not, Jim-lad?!

Or a private IRS, "IRS Inc." Collections would mushroom, and the deficit would vanish overnight.

And the RNC can patent Communicating With a Minor for Immoral Purposes. They would never have to hold $10,000-a-plate fundraisers ever again.
so sad but

true!

that's why we need to either a. not pay taxes or b. fingure out how to break even at the end of the year..no refund needed!

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