This is one of those times where I say we should just kill patents on the use of something AND make it so that software process patents should have the source code patented, not the process itself. That way if more than 60% of the code is different then the lawsuit is automatically dropped. The ambiguity of current patent law is absolutely appalling. Today on Techdirt (I love this site) I read a story about VISA being sued by a patent holder for sending out CC transaction alerts via SMS text messages.
Patents should only apply to inventions, products, and complex chemistry. It should not apply to concepts such as driving a car or one-click payment systems. It would be like me getting a patent on a handshake an trying to charge people every time they shook someones hand. I also think that if someone can prove that another person/organization came up with something that was patented before another party actually got the patent then the third party patent is automatically revoked.
The day will come (hopefully sooner rather than later) when then entire patent system is either scrapped and replaced or severely revamped. With the computing age at hand there is little room in our world for such an antiquated and harmful system. Unfortunately it is being propped up right now by politicians that are lining their pockets with proceeds from special interests groups. (Don’t try to fool yourself in thinking that the Democrats got rid of them. I doubt either party ever will.)
The story can be found here: http://techdirt.com/articles/20090302/0213413946.shtml