Hamptons Legal – The Daily Detail

News, Service & Small Practice Management

Estate Planning Strategies – Crisis Pending

Posted by pbsweeney on May 9, 2007

At HamptonsLegal we had read in Forbes & various journals, of a trend toward patenting tax loop holes, but we did not realize the extent to which the patent office has apparently been extending its reach in this area. We’d love to hear from our readers about any litigation pending or thoughts on this trend.

“Imagine, before sitting down with your client to advise her about her legal options, having to consult the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site to determine whether someone else already owns the patent to the course of action you want to suggest.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to pay the patent holder so your client can take your advice. But the patent holder also might refuse to sell you the license, limiting your client’s legal options. Then what? Welcome to Dennis Belcher’s world.

In 2004, Belcher—a trust and estate attorney in Richmond, Va., with three decades of experience—learned that patents had been issued on certain estate planning strategies for minimizing taxes. At first, he says, “I thought it was absurd that someone could patent an estate planning strategy.” But now, “I realize how dangerous this matter is, and I follow the topic for professional protection and to keep my clients out of a patent lawsuit.”

For good reason. Since issuing its first patent for a tax strategy in 2003, the Patent and Trademark Office has issued at least 52 patents covering specific tax strategies. Another 84 published applications for tax strategy patents are pending.”

To read this article in its entirety from the ABA Journal, click here….

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