New York, New York

Here are a couple of American curiosities from the IPKat's colonial cousin Miri Frankel (Beanstalk), via the New York Times.

First, it seems that lawyers have come up with another way to make life difficult for taxpayers: Americans may face a patent infringement suit if they use a tax strategy someone else has already patented.
“I can’t even imagine what it will be like in 5 or 10 years”
says Dennis B. Drapkin, a tax lawyer with Jones Day in Dallas and chairman of a task force of the American Bar Association’s tax section. He continues:
“If anytime a lawyer or accountant gives tax advice, they have to find out if there is a patent on this”.
Don't read any further, the IPKat says, unless you really don't mind being depressed by developments that the legislature almost certainly never envisaged when they thought it would be a nice idea to foster innovation by offering patent protection. That's not the point, says Merpel: if you patent new ways of levying taxation, you can either stop the authorities using those ways or extract a juicy royalty from them.

The second feature chronicles the early days of New York's aggressive campaign to hold building owners liable for illegal distribution activities on their property and to make the recording of movies in theatres a crime. Using tactics the city employed to go after counterfeiting in the apparel industry, officials work to identify buildings where piracy operations are located and then take legal action against landlords and owners. Under nuisance abatement laws, the city can essentially take control of the properties, shutting down offices, floors or entire buildings, depending on how they are being used, and sue the landlords. This could result in substantial fines and could also force landlords and owners to post bonds and to submit new tenants for city approval.

Left: what's left of a commercial property after the anti-piracy squad have finished searching it.

The IPKat wonders how soon it would be before vast swathes of commercial property end up under public control. Merpel says, this is a nice interplay between intellectual property and the real, solid, old-fashioned sort of property.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK ... NEW YORK, NEW YORK ... Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 Rating: 5

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