A strong voice in the patent argument (especially against the idea of software patenting) has long been that the patent process no longer supports but inhibits innovation - principally due to a mismatch in the duration of patents and the speed of innovation.
According to IT BRANSCHEN , a six-month research project by Ovum has led to the conclusions that:-
"The current software patent regime hampers innovation and must be radically changed"
Also from the Research Director who led the project.
"If every patent were 'exercised' it is hard to see how anyone would be able to write or sell any software at all."Garry Barnett, Ovum
Maybe, one day we will see patents (which are a state monopoly provided for an idea) be limited in duration to a timeframe in which society could be reasonably expected to independently create such an idea or a more rigorous application of the novel test or some other factor.
Until that time, software patenting will continue to be driven by a defensive arms race and a patent everything attitude, and this house of cards may drag a noble idea down.
As it stand the trend would seem to be patent vs innovation - which helps no-one in the long run.