Real Geek has this perspective on the trends in software patents. From the article
US Patent and Trademark Office made a new record for the number of software patents awarded in a single year. The agency has issued 893 new patents yesterday, pushing the total to 30,232 in this year.
Software patents are considered a growing problem for the high-tech industry. In a highly publicised court battle, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was forced to pay $612.5m to settle a dispute with patent holding company NTP.
The patent at the centre of the battle is likely to be invalidated in the future because of prior art, which essentially means that somebody invented the technology before the patent filer.
The threat from software patents primarily affects small software vendors and open source projects.