Ok - thank you for clarifying your position.
I have to respectfully disagree. I think that patents absolutely support innovation, from two perspectives:
1) They free companies to pour resources into R&D and development efforts that can be very costly, with a realistic expectation that they might realize a return on that investment. If every software innovation were immediately copyable by competitors, it would significantly reduce the efforts of companies to innovate in this arena, because there would be little upside in it for them.
2) Patents serve the public interest precisely by fostering the kind of innovation that can only come out of high-dollar development and engineering efforts. To the extent that patents make these endeavors profitable, they server the public interest by fostering improvements in the state of the art.
I understand, of course, that others will disagree and will argue the opposite, and in such cases, we'll need to agree to disagree.