I guess a lot of you have seen the story about how Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Apple are buying a bunch of Novell patents. The main worry from a lot of people seems to be that these patents ends up being used against open source, which is a risk, but it seems the latest changes to the deal makes the patents mostly defensive. That said, the problem still persists as it means there is another seat of patents no longer keeping these companies in check. The problems with software patents are well known, like their low quality and the crazy cost of fighting patents in court. The reason they haven’t killed the software industry completely is because of the patent nuclear deterrent, meaning how at least in the case of big companies they have enough patents themselves to usually scare of any patent lawsuits from the competitors. However this is a unstable situation and I can’t say that I like seeing this pool of patents no longer being available to deter patent suits from the 4 companies in question.