"On Wednesday I attended the Brookings Institution's conference on "The Limits of Abstract Patents in an Intangible Economy." The conference was organized by software patent skeptics, so that perspective has been well represented. But I was struck by the dramatic differences between the views of lawyers on the one hand (who made up the majority of the panelists and audience members) and the handful of technologists on the other. The first panel focused on the economics of abstract patents, and included a mix of technologists, economist, and lawyers. All of the panelists spoke about the serious problems being caused by patents in the software industry and argued for dramatic restrictions on software and business method patents. The tone of the second panel, which focused on legal issues, was rather different. All of the panelists were lawyers, and although they acknowledged that the patent system had problems, and that these problems are especially serious in the software industry, their focus was on abstruse details of patent law."