For your first claim, I'll argue that in most places, including the US and UK, patent infringement is a civil case, not a criminal case. I feel the cry of "Wrote software? It's illegal!" is a bit alarmist and sensationalistic.
As for your last paragraph - I agree that software patents as used today are a legalistic exercise in money-grabbing and fearmongering that do not serve their original purpose. But you have to remember that they do have an original purpose - allowing inventors
to benefit from their invention. If they didn't exist, any product I released could be reverse-engineered within hours and competition thrive without having to spend the R&D time I did. Not only that, but big companies could spend that R&D budget on marketing
and overtake my business by a mile.
I'm not trying to defend the current practices, but just to avoid the kneejerk "All patents are evil!" reaction. The "you'll succeed if you just have a good enough product" line works only in Horatio Alger stories, not in the marketplace where PR can make
or break a product.
I agree with what you said but I want to make it clear that I am talking about
software patents. I don't have problems with patents in general, as long is they follow the original guidelines (ie, they must be detailed and well written enough so that some one competent in the subject can understand and reproduce the invention
in question). Software is already established under copyright.
It's not alarmist at all by the way. I hope you realize that Microsoft themselves loses billions of dollars from what amounts to frivolous patent lawsuits. At one point they had to cripple IE for one of the patents. A patent if broad enough (and there is no
legal limit to what is considered "broad", only "obvious") it a lawsuit could be enough to ban the sales of Windows or any software, until it no longer violates the patent. Plus billions of dollars in fines can be issued. This is not being alarmist at all,
this is being realistic. All I am saying is how it is. I am not a moralist or an idealist. This is stuff that could directly affect me and probably anyone else who works with software.