The problem, to me, is the patent and trademark office. They're totally out of control and will issue a patent for just about anything at all. I couldn't believe they issued a patent for date windowing, especially because, like thousands of others, I'd already figured that out and implemented it in my company's software. And you see patents for obvious stuff like "one click ordering" or Apple's patent for "unlock gesture" for a phone -- geez, what's next, guys, a patent for breathing?
This sort of stupidity has pretty much made patents worthless, except for the occasional patent troll who happens to catch someone "infringing" on one of their thousands of patents, which likely conflicts with thousands of other patents out there. It's just a giant shake down game where the trolls and giant corporations crush competition with the threat of a giant lawsuit the little guys can't afford, even if they "won."
My suggestion for starting to clean up this mess is throw out all "business method" patents, throw out all patents for anything a normal person could think up in 5 minutes, like "unlock gesture" and go back to when a patent meant you had actually invented something useful and tangible and that took a bit of work to develop and not five minutes at a keyboard.
This illustrates the problem with most patents: if you manage to infringe on so many patents with just one product, there must be a problem with the patents. I think the vast majority of them in fatc concerns trivialities that should not have been granted patent rights.....