Once upon a time patents actually served a purpose. Yes; that’s obviously both a true and false statement… True in that intellectual property was protected via filing them; false in that patents have also become vital to fending off on-going litigation (which equates to them being set forth as a cost of doing business). And, in the example of Google’s purchase of 1,000 of them from IBM, they are being acquired for just that as patent-litigation is both becoming increasingly common and contentious within Silicon Valley (and the entire tech industry globally).
In the long-run; this orientation might very well have a negative impact on innovation… particularly if a fledgling start-up is squashed by a tech-behemoth and/or said entity just decides to opt-out (entirely) regarding trying to innovate (in general).
From PC World: http://goo.gl/ghIRy