In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Porter, Google's patent counsel, argued that the patent system is broken and that all the lawsuits and countersuits between tech companies waste time and resources. While this might be a popular opinion among tech professionals and consumers, it's both a little surprising and enlightening to hear this stated by a lawyer, especially one in the employ of Google itself.
Porter stated in the interview that legal pressure is a tactic used by Microsoft to earn revenue in markets that they have essentially lost. "This is a tactic that Microsoft has used in the past, with Linux, for example. When their products stop succeeding in the marketplace, when they get marginalized, as is happening now with Android, they use the large patent portfolio they've built up to get revenue from the success of other companies' products," Porter said.
When asked if software should be patentable at all, Porter avoided answering directly and said that many patents are written too vaguely and overly broad - that the companies filing such patents are trying to claim ownership of an idea that shouldn't be patentable in the first place. He says it's these kinds of patents that are being used to hinder innovation in the industry.
Porter goes on to discuss other related topics such as the effect of all this litigation on Android as a product, the behavior of Google's competitors including Microsoft, HTC, Apple and Samsung, and how he thinks the system could be changed to make things better. The entire interview is a very interesting read and highly recommended.