A couple of days ago I talked to a very gifted friend of mine who is spending his days finishing up a truckload of patent applications for his current company. Something I find very sad because I think patents are inherently bad and I wish he would spend his time doing more worthwhile things.
However, in the space they operate they need patents to ward off other companies with large patent portfolios. In fact, he likened what they do to creating mine-fields. To make it really, really dangerous for other companies to even try to compete with you. And to make sure that no challengers will get uppity with you.
In any case, what stuck with me was what he said about his next startup; in his next startup he would spend most of the money on patent lawyers. Because inventing, developing and bringing an invention to market is just too risky these days. The money is better spent on rigging whatever IPR you have with patents to "increase the number of possible exit strategies".