Tom Clark brought a very interesting article on patents to my attention:
This is really not to single out Microsoft – everybody in the technology field(s) is doing this kind of thing right now. But it is plain wrong: On the one side I do see legitimate needs for software and similar patents – but the current system is obviously so overwhemled that all kinds of nonsensical applications can make it through the process.
From personal experience: some time ago, I had a friend who was in deep trouble: he wrote some open source software to control toy trains. Open source software – nice. Well, some patent troll from Oregon contacted him and told him about a patent he was granted that was – allegedly – infringed by this OSS package. My friend got an invoice for $200,000. It turned out that tthe patent in question “covered” any cross-process communication – as long as it was related to toy trains. This patent was actually granted in 2003 – about 35 years after the first DARPAnet cross-machine communications RFCs and more than 17 years after Marklin released their first digital control system for toy trains. Bottom line: the system *is* broken.