Note that my comments have been expressed in the context of the business case for software software patents, which applies irrespectively of the field of software development. That’s another issue to consider, and hinted at before when I made a distinction between middleware developers (who sell ‘tech’) and ‘pure’ game developers (who don’t sell ‘tech’, but ‘art’/’media’/…well…’games’) :)[/quote:751b27d8f4]
My take on patents is that there are 2 takes:
1st – patents are basically another form of business currency. As long as there is a degree of legislative support for them, they have value, therefore businesses will exploit them (just as they would exploit a tax law). This is independent of whether they are good or bad (like taxes).
2nd – the argument about whether software patents are good and bad, which is completely separate from the business case of using them or not using them ultimately boils down to a definition of novelty and the level at which novelty becomes an item of value that has an associated rightful ownership. Basically this is impossible to define in black & white, therefore the line drawn will always represent some compromise (usually heavily politically and economically motivated).
Finally I might add that patents as a currency are more akin to a barter system implemented as a big game of chicken. You’re never sure what you have is valuable, you sure as heck are less sure that what they have is valuable and its the person willing to confidently stick with it to the end that has best chance of succeeding.
As far as investors go, patents are primarily a way of determining that someone somewhere (i.e. patent investigator) has placed value on an IP independently of the promoter, and also that the promoter has placed enough value on the IP to secure the patent in the first place and that at least the promoter has at least one card to deal in the game of IP wars.