Supreme Court Grants Cert. in Bilski Case

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in the case of Bilski v. Doll, Sup. Ct. Dkt. No. 08-964. The Court has agreed to review the Federal Circuit’s earlier decision in the case and address the question of when business methods are eligible for patent protection.


Bilski involves commodities trading, but the Supreme Court’s holding in the case could have an impact on the area of tax strategy patents, since those patents are a type of business methods patent.


In October, the Federal Circuit ruled that to be patentable a business process must meet a “machine or transformation” test (In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008)). The Federal Circuit held that only a business method that is tied to a particular machine or apparatus or that “transforms a particular article into a different state of things” is eligible for patent protection. In so holding, the Federal Circuit expressly rejected its earlier State Street Bank decision, which was the first case to establish that business methods are patentable (State St. Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Fin. Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998)).


For more on the patenting of tax strategies in general, see Ransome and Sherr, “ Patenting Tax Ideas ,” 38 The Tax Adviser 456 (Aug. 2007).



Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.