With the announcement of the Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate 1 & 2 I became aware again of Trent Oster's (of BioWare Fame) blog. Reading down I was faced with a post he made to an issue that as far as I'm aware still isn't dead yet(though I haven't found anything more current than that). That being Lodsys and their attempt to collect on what they claimed was license fees due from Apple App Developers. Which brings me back to his post. While I can agree with where his comments came from I can't agree with what I read as a knee jerk reaction.
Below is what my response to his post would be. Since the post is over 10 months old I didn't post this to his comments. It would be pointless to start a discussion on something he posted that long ago. However since I have a blog where I can post my thoughts no matter their source I'm going to post what my response would be any way.
I just found your blog again after having not read it for over a year and I read this old post about the situation with Lodsys. While what you said at the time would be good in theory it didn't look at the other side of the coin. Those people that have the ideas, but are unable to produce them. In your example since a patent is public a company that can produce "it" need only wait the 5 years. They then profit off that persons work without which they may never have been able to create the item.
In many fields the 20 year(at maximum I believe) exclusivity rule works because the item will be either worth the money to buy right to produce it now, be improved to the point waiting to the end of the patent term is worth the money, or be obsolete and therefor not worth anyone's time to produce now or maybe ever. The length of time is generally dependent on those very facts and the impact the type of patent could have for the good.
I'm not saying that any of that stands in this case nor do I agree with what is happening as I know it. I find, by what I've read is happening, their actions totally abhorrent. And as much as I can agree we have major issues with our system and how much it promotes greed/stupidity the core is to protect those that do not have the ability to protect themselves. Sadly on the flip side of what is happening here is the people who do get cheated out of their hard work. Many is the well known that died poorer because of their invention which was then lost to those able to take advantage.
I guess that was all just a long winded way of say it works both ways.