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Despite the encroachment of patents on the ridiculous (one-click, etc), I respect the value of having a patent system when it comes to real technology or design that deliver a new type of value to the consumer. Its a noble attempt to reward innovators. While weakness in the system has been top of mind recently with big player oppressing the little guy, or holding companies using patents to extort money from innovators, patents can also protect the little guy. So, just because there has been some excess, we shouldn't see patents, as a whole, as a bad thing. Instead, what we may need to reconsider are the bounds of what should be patentable, and possibly duration.

In regards to Apple, it may be that some of these patents in question are completely legitimate, and are consistent with the spirit of the idea of patents. I would not view Apple in a negative light for protecting what others might have knocked-off. Lets see how the case works out. It may turn out that many of Apple's claims are invalidated through prior art, etc. But if they do hold, I say good for Apple. BTW, I carry an Android phone.

The patent system is a attempt at achieving a noble goal (rewarding inventors) but in my opinion it fails both at:

- Generally failing to reward innovators.

- Encouraging more benefits than it costs to society.

The former is because:

- Generally individuals cannot afford to effectively use the patent process.

- Any innovation usually has a couple of good ideas but requires many other (already patented) building blocks which makes the new innovation unprofitable or impossible to pursue.

- Companies that can afford to file and use patents generally can't realize their new ideas, or if they do, not to the full extent of their promise. (Every company has limited resources and a patent on, say, the mouse has a whole load of possible applications.)

- Technology moves so fast than 20 years is essentially 5 product life cycles.

I would argue that the patent system does nothing at all to deliver value to the consumer.

Generally things are cheapest for consumers when there is a large market of near-homogeneous products, such as consumer televisions - exactly the kind of market patents are designed to stop by the granting of temporary monopolies. Yet in that market (where everyone can build a TV) we see pretty rapid innovation - when I grew up in 1980 we had one black and white TV. Now we can reasonably expect that 3D TVs will be available for twenty bucks before 2020.

> So, just because there has been some excess, we shouldn't see patents, as a whole, as a bad thing.

You say 'some' excess, but it's my understanding that the vast majority of patent applications and patent lawsuits fall under the 'abuses' that you're talking about. How often is the patent system really protecting the little guy vs being used as a tool by large corporations to oppress the little guy?

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