The San Francisco Chronicle features an interview with Google's patent counsel, Tim Porter, who argues that "... what many people can agree on is the current system is broken and there are a large number of software patents out there fueling litigation that resulted from a 10- or 15-year period when the issuance of software patents was too lax. Things that seemed obvious made it through the office until 2007, when the Supreme Court finally said that the patent examiners could use common sense. Patents were written in a way that was vague and overly broad. (Companies are) trying to claim something that's really an idea (which isn't patentable). There are only so many ways to describe a piston, but software patents are written by lawyers in a language that software engineers don't even understand. They're being used to hinder innovation or skim revenue off the top of a successful product." Porter is speaking in particular about the snarls that have faced (and still face) Android, based on Microsoft patents; he blames some of the mess on a patent regime where "you don't know what patents cover until courts declare that in litigation. What that means is people have to make decisions about whether to fight or whether to reach agreements."
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