In an odd story that most consumers will bypass this morning comes the news that Apple, RIM and Microsoft recently bought a block of patents from the once Internet darling now defunct Nortel networks. Why should we worry? Well, many are concerned these companies will use the patents to thwart Google Androids attempt to take over the wireless market. Already, more smartphone run on the Android platform than any other smartphone technology.
Remember the company that held RIM hostage with a vague but eventually enforceable patent and the U.S. government had to step RIM from being shut down. Expect more patent suits rather less in wireless space. See here for more background on mobile patents and who is suing who.
I bring this up because we are headed for an era where patents are being used to protect turf in dubious ways that do not benefit the consumer. Usually consumers lose out in these battles as companies try to use patents to block the rise of technology not foster it.