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Patent prosecutors may not be the life of the party. They may step on every punch line around the punch bowl. And I’m sure they show a properly sober attitude toward the law and their clients’ interests. But through the patent prosecution bar there also runs a certain devil-may-care, what-the-heck streak. How else to explain Patent 6,368,227, “Method of Swinging on a Swing”? The patent covers — or covered, before it was invalidated — a method of moving side to side, rather than back and forth, on a suspended seat. And every patent prosecutor worth her salt can tell you a million more such stories. Which might also explain patents on tax strategies. Is it a good idea to seek a temporary government monopoly on a means for following federal law? Complying with the tax laws is one method of doing business. And seeking a patent isn’t sneaky: You present your application to the authorities. What the heck? Tax practitioners beg to differ. In this issue of Legal Times’ IP, Paul Devinsky, John Fuisz, and Thomas Sykes bring together their expertise in patent and tax law to explain what the fuss is all about (“Whose Tax Law Is It?”). The authors say there’s a chance that Congress might carve out an exception barring patents on tax strategies. But it might not. Devinsky, Fuisz, and Sykes urge tax experts to act now, before their wealth of advice gets taken private. Alarm bells are being sounded by Leiv Blad Jr. and Paul Frontczak, too. Their eyes are focused not on Washington, but on China (“Old Battle, New Field”). Over the past decade, the U.S. courts have cleared up a little disagreement over when IP rights improperly interfere with antitrust protections. According to the authors, the current rule goes like this: “Doing what the patent law expressly permits cannot violate the antitrust law.” But the Chinese might not choose to balance the equities the same way. Informed observers say China is likely to enact an Anti-Monopoly Law next year. Businesses with international concerns should be very interested to see how their IP fares under the new law. Also on next year’s horizon is major patent legislation at home. The Coalition for Patent Fairness predicts Congress will enact a bill in 2007 (“Patent Reform Pondered”). Businesses with domestic concerns should be very interested to see how their IP fares. — Elizabeth Engdahl Managing Editor

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