Originally Posted by iMat
According patents to companies which actually don't produce a product based on the patent should make the patent decay after, let's say, 5 or 10 years. Just an idea... But this would avoid many crazy disputes which, in the end, are a cost for the comminity.
Well, yes, but the problem with this approach is that companies would just stop licensing patents (and not just in software), wait for them to run out, then use the technology for free. It's entirely possible to have a really good idea of a great way to do something, but not have the resources to implement it. So, instead of actually implementing it yourself, you license the patent to people who do have the resources. But, who's going to license technology if the patent will just run out in a few years if left "dormant".
On the other hand, and without reference to this patent and case, there do seem to be a lot of vague, obvious, and otherwise poorly justified patents issued. The whole thing about patenting genes for example. Fine, let a company patent a process for conducting a genetic test or isolating a gene, but patenting a gene, which occurs in nature, is, in my opinion, an egregious abuse of the system. Something is clearly wrong at the PTO when things like this are granted patents.
So, yes, there obviously needs to be reform, but it's not at all a simple thing to do, and there's no easy fix for the system.