"For all that, patents are weak protection. "Software patents are four times more likely to be litigated than patents covering an industry for which patents work relatively well, chemical processes," says Michael Meurer, professor of law at Boston University. But it's not just a problem for the software vendors. IT professionals have felt the FUD created by patent squabbles between IT vendors. Microsoft caused quite a stir two years ago with its patent-based threats against users of Linux (albeit no lawsuits ever materialized)."