You are all making some good points here.
I don't think we should do away with patents but what we have now with the patent system is not the ideal situation. If I have a patent and want to take on GE because they stole my idea, I would have to come up with millions of dollars to fight GE and their army of attorneys. Going to court is always a lose situation for the one without resources and money. So as far a patents helping the little guy I do NOT believe this is true anymore.
Patents do help larger corporations protect their ideas but they have abused the system in patenting everything and now it is used as a weapon in court rather than real ideas moving innovation forward.
There is also a lot of patent lawyers filing lawsuits on patents they have purchased. I think in order to file a patent lawsuit you need to have created a product using that idea in order to have patent protection. Ideas without products are a dime a dozen and should not be protected.