On the heels of the last two weeks of posts on IP rights and Open Source solutions, I suggest you read this article from Make magazine.
A small excerpt from the article:
Patents exist for a reason; innovation is not free or even cheap. But who says the way we’re doing it now works very well at all? Large producing firms defensively acquire patents as leverage in the event they are sued by a competitor. So-called “patent trolls” buy patents like lottery tickets while wielding the letter of the law as a thief would a gun; extorting value they did not earn while leaving their victims shaken and thankful more was not taken from them.