In early 2015, an anonymous source leaked 11.5 million confidential documents relating to offshore entities represented by Panamanian corporate services firm, Mossack Fonseca. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has been diligently working their way through this glut of documents for the last year and published their first findings on April 3rd, 2016.
While journalists and law enforcement comb the documents for hints of financial irregularities, we at IP Street can't help be realized that there is an intellectual property angle to this story as well. Assigning patent assets to offshore companies has long been used as an effective tax mitigation strategy and privacy laws in many of the tax haven countries makes it nearly impossible to identify who owns what patents. Patent privateering is a very real thing but analyzing the scope of its use is exceeding difficult. The Panama Papers offer us a unique opportunity to look behind the curtain and see how these shell games really work and who's playing them.