Re: And another thing -- promiscuous software patents
You can't patent mathematical functions. But you can patent a program that uses those functions within the software. That's entirely proper. But UI innovations? They should be copyrighted instead. That's actually better for the software developer. It's a stronger bond than a patent, and lasts effectively forever.
My belief on software patents is that they should exist. It's important as, whether it's an individual or a major company, they should have control over their own work. But, I do believe that for software, 20 years is too long. As it can be easier to benefit from a software patent over a short time, than for an electronic or particularly a mechanical invention, the patent should be for a shorter time. I think 10 years would be much better. It wouldn't end contention, but would force patent owners to attempt to use it earlier, and for others, it would make the wait less onerous.