Between the patent trolls and the lawyers they employ, vast sums of money that could be going into something productive are instead doing two value free things:
- Defending (or paying off) against bogus patent claims
- Building up a MAD style array of patents to use as defensive weapons
Here's what the Washington Post has to say about it:
In the smartphone market alone, $15-20 billion has already been spent by technology companies on building defenses, says Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley. For example, Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion—mostly for its patents. An Apple-Microsoft-Oracle-Nokia consortium bought Nortel’s patent portfolio for $4.5 billion. Microsoft bought Novell’s patent portfolio for $450 million and some of AOL’s patents for $1 billion. Facebook bought some of Microsoft’s new AOL patents for $550 million. Lemley estimates that more than $500 million has been squandered on legal fees—and battles are just beginning. This is money that could have been spent, instead, on R&D.
The only ones who are making out under the current system are the lawyers, and they are parasitically feasting at the trough. It's time to get rid of software patents. Don't reform them; kill them dead.