On the debate Apple vs Samsung, Matthew Yglesias says:
Optimists will say this kind of strong protection for first movers creates big financial incentives to innovate. But a more realistic view is that technology companies are generally trying their best to innovate and it’s simply difficult. In that view, jury rulings in favor of incumbents will simply reduce competition and raise prices for consumers.
The debate on patents is very controversial to say the least (I like this piece by my colleague and friend Julio Cole). We should probably reduce the time of protection that patents grant. Innovation is moving very fast in some industries. Think about the revolution in the education industry (see this example), imagine if the first mass online education company had patented the idea . . . It was not patented or it is probably not patentable, and new companies and models keep innovating (based on existing ideas and technology) and benefiting students worldwide.
One can not deny the historical importance of patents, specially during the industrial revolution (and in the US itself during the 18th and 20th century) however, nowadays the patents system is more of a problem than a solution. This does not mean that we should get rid of it, but it must be re-considered.