From the article:
system is riddled with abuse, mainly from "patent trolls," or small businesses that sue established companies to enforce patents for ideas that have never been developed into products.
I think you could look at this two ways. As long as we have the current patent system, development of ideas into usable software products is irrelevant. It's the ideas that are important under current law.
For as many instances of "trolls", there are corporations that hold and protect patents on intuitive ideas that anyone would have thought of.
We mostly know that ideas are a dime a dozen, and that it's hard work that brings things to market. Corporate jealousy in their patents stifles technology.
Many times ideas don't get developed until the patents have expired. If patent laws ever get like copyright laws are.... in that they last for more than a century.... things will really be fouled up.
This case in David facing Goliath and losing doesn't make me very happy, because Goliath slays David, every day in our courts.
Mainly ideas held by IBM and Microsoft make it almost impossible to develop word processing, video streaming or encryption technology without paying fabulous patent fees, if the owner will even allow the technology to be used.
One set of ideas that Microsoft guards is it's ASF file wrapper for an example. Not a particularly unique idea, but enough with patents to make sure that no one could develop new software using the technology for profit.
This wouldn't be so bad, except that microsofts implementation of it's streaming system is crappy.
One example of where MS flexed it's muscle is with virtualdub. It used to be able to read the ASF format, which would have been useful. The developers got squished by MS into removing any code that would read the ASF file format.
Again, that wouldn't be so bad, except MS never made a product that works as well as virtualdub. Windows Movie Maker SUCKS!.
It isn't the only example of patented ideas being developed into inferior products. Products that can never be improved upon until the patents expire.
The problem in computer science is that the state of the art improves so fast that 15 year old ideas are hardly useful.
I don't think I'm cheering that the little guy got bent here. I don't think the effect of this small company winning a lawsuit is anything compared to the major corporate stifling of technology by patent enforcement.
I wonder if this will eventually be like "Demolition Man" the movie where the only restaurant is Taco Bell.
It's becoming apparent that a very small number of people want to own the worlds computer technology. As new technologies get traded to large companies in exchange for the use of existing patents that no one can avoid, more and more patents are falling into the hands of fewer and fewer entities.
It's becoming evident that it won't be the companies that have the best programmers and scientists, but the ones that have the most clever lawyers, the most money and the aggressive patent registration.