The judge who threw out Apple's patent lawsuit against Motorola Mobility (and, by extension, against Google) has spoken - and he's not a fan of what he calls the "proliferation of patents" in some industries. (Although he finds the lawsuits...amusing?)
Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said in an interview with Reuters that "it's not clear that we really need patents in most industries." His view is that patents make sense for the pharmaceutical industry, in which R&D is a tremendous investment, but not so much for software - which requires less of an investment and already gives technology companies an edge when they bring the latest gadgets to market.
In the current case, Posner rejected Apple's request for a ban of Motorola phones because a) it would harm consumers and b) Apple's patent "is not a claim to a monopoly of streaming video!"
And in tossing the lawsuit, Posner also rejected the idea of banning an entire smartphone or other device based on the infringement of patents covering individual features (like streaming video).
Despite his general skepticism about the need for software patents, Judge Posner actually offered to preside over the Apple/Motorola case because of his interest in patents - and he was looking forward to the trial.
However, "I didn't think I could have a trial just for fun," he admitted. (Not to worry, Your Honor - there are plenty of other patent lawsuits in the news at any given time to thrill and amuse IP enthusiasts.)