I completely agree with RIM's CEO's recent blasting of the US Patent system. As I read through my daily dose of geek-news I often find myself shaking my head at some of the ridiculous things that manage to get patented and the lawsuits that constantly clog up the US legal system.
There's no possible way that someone deserves a patent for "how to draw a box on a computer screen". And yes, I'm sure there's a patent for that.
While I know the patent system CAN help protect inventors, it's main use has become making often-questionable companies very rich through overly-generic patents and huge lawsuits.
RIM and many other companies are calling for a reform of patent laws. I'm very much behind them on this one. Both the patent office and the way the US judicial system handles patent infringment cases has to change. There's no way there should ever be the kind of ransom that RIM paid to NTP. $671 million is just ridiculous.
This is going to be an even bigger issue in the next couple years. As "nanotech" matures, the USPO is going to go through the same issues as it did with software – they don't know enough about nanotech to ensure that patents are reasonable.
When you end up having a company or group patenting a basic building block for an entire technology it can do significant harm to an emerging (or even mature) market. How can a new technology grow and flourish when researchers and companies are mired in patent-landmines around every corner?