Kiwipixter: Understand your argument on patenting vs copyright/Fair trading practices, but I disagree on inventive vs the obvious when it comes to human-computer interactions. Give an Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, a Mac, a Windows or Linux computer to a 10 year old and chances are they will know or learn how to use it without any help. Give it to their grandparents and you'll be spending a lot of time teaching them how do even the basics like turning it on. Human-computer interactions are not obvious and companies like Apple spends of lot of time and money developing this and so they should be able to patent/copyright protect it.
The problem is the broken patent system in the US. Here are just a few of the flaws:
- Most patent judges and experts are former patent attorneys, creating a system that favours more patents (and therefore more patent attorney billable hours).
- Patented inventions are not supposed to be "obvious to someone skilled in the art", but the examiners are laypeople and normally don't have any relvant industry knowledge.
- There is a huge backlog of patent applications, and many are being rushed in order to stop the queue getting worse.
- With so many patents, it has become incredibly hard for examiners to check for prior art. Examiners are just about relying on the patent filer to do the job, and there are plenty of reasons for the filer not to look that hard.
- Once a patent is granted, it's incredibly hard to get it invalidated.