"It is one thing to have a patent on a transistor. It is another thing to have a patent on some ridiculous detail like 'one-click-buying', as Amazon does. I have worked for a bigger software company. Part of the standard development process was filing patents - worldwide. Each time a software project was about to be finished, the developers, software architects etc. were asked to name patent-worthy functionality. For us it was not a bad thing, because of course you got some extra money for this, without having to spend much work - the code was already there after all. So we needed a constant amount of lawyers working for us, mostly in the US and in the EU. My company didn't use the patents for attacking other companies, only for defense purposes. When we were sued - which happened about once or twice a year - we had some weapons at hand, too. In the end it just was a necessity to file as many patents as possible to keep the business going. Big companies can afford this, small ones cannot. It is simply a barrier for entering the software market everybody has to be aware of. I bet it is not much different in the CPU business. In the end, patents are necessary if you want to keep a constant flow of new inventions. The real PITA are patents for mere trivialities, though. They do more harm than good."