The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is considering to invalidate many (if not most) software patents and significantly restrict the issuance of new process patents. No doubt, intellectual property does deserve decent protection, and I think that this move by the USPTO will in fact result in better protection of property: copyright law provides ample protection against IPR theft while not getting in the way of real innovations.
To draw a technical comparison, process patent law protects the API, while copyright law protects the implementation. Although it takes a lot of thought to come up with a good API, it should be the implementation that is at the heart of the competition to not harm the end-user.
In this sense, the new direction of the USPTO will benefit the end-users (consumer as well as application developers) by allowing the concrete implementation of ideas to compete while keeping interoperability at the idea-level intact. In the end, the entire market will benefit including the vendors by lowering the barrier for interoperability significantly.