"This is particularly troublesome in the fast-moving software industry which has become increasingly bogged down by patent litigation. Some of the most fundamental principles of computer science are now covered by patents, Tiller says, and it's almost impossible to develop original and innovative software without fear of infringing on patents. Patent litigation is also costly and highly unpredictable, which has made it easy for companies to use junk patents to extort out-of-court settlements. These conditions, which largely undermine the purpose that the patent system was created to serve, pose what Tiller characterizes as a systemic problem for the United States as a whole. Since 1994, he says, the cost of litigation has vastly exceeded the profits generated from patent licensing in virtually all industries with the exception of chemical and pharmaceutical companies. According to some studies, over $11.4 billion every year is spent on software patent litigation alone. Congress has been struggling to fix the problem for years but hasn't been able to build consensus around meaningful reforms."