"Corporate legal departments tell engineers which patents they can and can't read. Sometimes engineers are told not to read patents at all, lest they be accused of deliberately infringing someone's IP. Meanwhile, businesspeople of all stripes pressure engineers to file patent applications for every idea. That has spawned a business of litigation and licensing that charges for portfolios by the pound. Companies now wield patents strategically to charge others for the freedom to innovate. In this sick world, patents don't spark innovation, they inhibit it. […] Engineers need to speak up in a loud and clear voice about what's wrong. If they don't, I suspect the lawyers and corporate managers who have gotten us into today's mess will continue to build on the upside-down bubble market for patents they have created."