There's an excellent worst-case scenario story on Ars today about a conglomerate of patent trolls using a patent to extort money from small business owners. I know people who will vehemently deny the patent system is not "broken" but just needs some minor tweaks. Personally I want to kill it with fire, but unlike my dad I don't have 9 patents to my name. (I should have, but that's another story.)
This point in the story is key, I think, to understanding how vital this issue is to our national economy:
"It’s a lopsided system. When confronted with prior art in court, patent owners can insist on the narrowness of their patented technology. Yet when they’re sending out demand letters, they can claim a vast array of everyday business practices is their “property.”"
Because of this imbalance, the very lifeblood of our economy, small businesses, are being hung out to dry by a shady network of legal entities designed specifically to scare people into giving them money. It's a 21st century form of grifting and I hope to hell our government wakes up to what's going on and fixes this shit.
You want to create jobs? Fix idiocy like this. Shut them down, raid their offices, and FIX our patent system.
one man's journey into creating gibblybits