I've said it before and I'll say it again: Software patents are evil. They allow the work of innovators to be ambushed and raise the cost of technology innovation. But finding a viable solution to the software patent mess isn't easy.
As it happens, Wired is running a series of articles on this topic, including an essay by Richard Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation. Stallman proposes limiting the enforceability of patents against software, noting that the subjects of patents "can also be implemented in hardware ... and many of them have been. Each patent typically covers both hardware and software implementations of the idea."