How dumb is the US PTO? Dumb enough that they issued a patent troll company, Sharing Sound, a patent on "web distribution of music" in 2001.
Yeah, as if there wasn't any prior art. It's gotten to the point that patents are actively harmful; I'm not sure that even having them is useful any longer. Especially when trolls can set their settlement fees lower than the cost of litigation, and get away with free money leeched from the system. Follow the link for more details; here's a great summation though:
As Winston & Strawn attorneys Gene Schaerr and Jacob Loshin argued rather convincingly in a September 22 Washington Legal Foundation Web Seminar, the risk-benefit analysis on litigating vs. settling more often comes out on the side of fighting patent trolls. This should especially hold true in situations where a patent is as glaringly weak as the Sharing Sound patent.