Last last year, we wrote about the growing trend of patenting tax strategies and deductions
-- and now that it's tax season, that story has reappeared. lavi dave
writes in to point to yet another story about patented tax deductions
. This isn't getting very much attention because most people don't realize how it may impact them -- and about the only people talking about it are (of course) patent attorneys and financial types who are hoping to get rich off of these patents. The article includes quotes from one patent holder who insists that of course tax strategies should be patentable since he had to "think outside the box" to come up with it. His attorney also comes up with some totally unsupported statement that somehow this "levels the playing field." What's not explained is why any of this is patentable. If the tax deductions are allowed by the law, then it seems pretty ridiculous to think that it can be limited by a monopoly right. It's another bastardization of the patent system, where people are using it not to create incentives for actual innovation, but to figure out ways to force others to pay for doing what they would normally do otherwise. It's important that people realize that the patent system is now trampling on their rights, rather than helping promote innovation. In the meantime, of course, the trend has continued to build. Back in October there were 50 such patents granted, and 81 pending. Apparently, the numbers are now 53 granted and 84 pending. So as we get to tax day, besides going over all your tax forms and deductions carefully, you may need to spend an extra day pouring over patents to make sure you're not infringing...