New Horizons in International Business series
Edited by Daniel R. Cahoy and Lynda J. Oswald
Chapter 5: The patenting of a profession—accounting in the crosshairs
While the argument that patents may constrain professionals by infringing on the ability of practitioners to serve their clients is not new, concern over the application of business method patents to the accounting profession is a more recent phenomenon. Concerns raised by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and other groups resulted in proposals to place limits on the patentability of tax strategies. These groups have argued that tax strategy patents preempt Congress’s legislative control of the Internal Revenue Code and its interpretations. They also argue that tax strategy patents make it difficult for tax advisors to render advice to clients, potentially increase the costs of tax advice to clients, and may mislead taxpayers into thinking that a patented tax strategy is valid in the eyes of the IRS (AICPA, 2011). Tax strategy patents have been widely discussed in the academic literature as well (Burk & McDonnell, 2007; Beale, 2008; Sawyers, Baumer & Chumney, 2009; Chumney, Baumer & Sawyers, 2009; Aprill, 2010). Chumney et al. (2009) argued that if the courts validate tax strategy and other business method patents, there are no barriers to the issuance of additional patents that carve out essential chunks of the professions themselves, including the practice of accounting.
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