Interesting news for those that are convinced that the IP system is a mess, and should be fixed asap.
As far as I'm concern, I think it's important not to throw the baby and the bath water, and to focus on fixing the current IP system, not the overall concept of intellectual property.
Kodak wins major Java lawsuit
Sun Microsystems violated a patent held by Kodak when it introduced Java more than a decade ago, according to a federal jury Friday. Kodak, which acquired the patents from Wang in 1997, is now seeking lump-sum damages of over $1 billion dollars. The damages phase of the trial is likely to be hotly contested. The patent concerns the ability of a program to "ask for help" from another application. The jury ruled that the method Java uses to process bytecode utilizes techniques described in Kodak's patent. Critics say the patent should never have been issued since it describes an essential function of modern computing. Opponents of software patents claim that this verdict demonstrates that software patents can cause unforeseen problems and will lead to a chilling effect on technology innovation. Kodak will likely use damages awarded in this case to fuel its shift from a chemical firm to a digital photography manufacturer.
More on this ruling here.
The same issue is rising in the wireless space, where Intellectual property has become an increasingly serious problem for wireless technology vendors. Symbol, for example, could use the $23 million it won from rival Proxim to wage a campaign of patent lawsuits against smaller WiFi vendors with limited resources. Fear over intellectual property claims can stifle the development of products in emerging markets. In response to this fear, Via has been pressuring WiMAX patent holders to reveal their IP up front and negotiate fair licensing agreements with manufacturers. Technologists like World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee believe emerging technologies should be kept royalty-free because widespread adoption of a new standard benefits rights holders, even without licensing fees. The Register as a good note on Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards.