David Cardinal has an excellent primer on the disasterous cost of our broken patent system. The whole post is excellent and filled with telling details. Cardinal says there are well over 100,000 patents that apply to cell phones, for example. Here's a brief excerpt:
As an example, Apple has been granted a patent on “slide to unlock” in the United States, which is now being contested in court. The idea both seems fairly obvious and was used in a Windows CE phone prior to Apple’s filing, but nonetheless it is currently valid in the United States — it has already been thrown out in the Netherlands after Samsung brought out the older phone to demonstrate for the court. Imagine the work of having to challenge several patents in each country where a company sells products.
-ExtremeTech, October 31, 2011