The Patent system is completely out of control. We all know this, but the frequency of foolishness is increasing. The current BT case does seem particularly silly. Is nothing sacred when it might be patentable?
On a related note Dave Winer has been very upset by the pressure on him to use Cascading Style Sheets, a technology which is a W3C web standard, and which I think he would agree is a good technology, but which he is worried is too closely tied to a Microsoft patent. (For Dave, who is normally a great standards-promoter, this is notable, but I think he went too far here. I, like many others, had almost forgotten about this patent issue. See Mark Pilgrim’s more reasonable summary).
The more fundamental our reliance on anything (like the axiom that the W3C should be looked to for web standards), the more it is a target for patent-hunters and hence the less we can rely on anything. The situation is very neatly commented on by this article in The Onion.
At some point, one hopes, the whole system must collapse and be laughed out of court. It’s not widely known that I actually own a patent which covers the whole patenting process, and so every patent really belongs to me…