Eliezer S. Yudkowsky said
>Ideally, patents are not so much property as a cooperative agreement
>between yourself and the public; if you reveal the mechanism of your
>invention so that the public can benefit, the public agrees to ensure
>that you don't suffer for it.
Why do the public benefit from knowing that a solution exists but that they can't use it? Who in the public benefits from granting a patent on the colt revolver? All that did was force a bunch of people to build crazy approximations to "the one true way" and gave lots of money to Samuel Colt & Co. The public would have been better off if there was no patent.
The way that I see it, if purchasing the good does not "give away" its secret (as in coca cola) you don't need a patent. If simply seeing the good does give away its secret (as would be the case in the colt revolver), then copyright is sufficient. The only people who profit from patents are losers. Levi's survives on copyright, Colt would have also.
Anyhow. I don't think i have anymore to add to this: i just think it is wrong that someone can stop me from writing software that i have thought of. You would think that too if you wrote the code and you are suffering from overpricing as a result.