It's almost becoming a rule in the tech industry, that actually doing something that people want to use absolutely guarantees that you're going to get sued for patent infringement. It's pretty clear that the current patent system is acting as a massive tax/tollbooth on innovation. The latest in a long line of examples: just as Google has been rolling out its Google Drive offering to users, it's been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit
from a company with a patent (5,918,244
) that covers a "method and system for coherently caching I/O devices across a network." As the lawsuit notes, the technology behind the patent is to enable the ability of "multiple
computers [to] all communicate with each other and... all access data from the same data
storage device or devices, such as hard disk." Basically, the patent describes a system of RAM caching. Because I'm sure no one ever would have figured out how to do that without the patent system... So, rather than just allowing the technology to progress in the market as new products are developed, we're left with legal fights and a tollbooth on innovation.