Jordan Weissmann, a bright guy over at The Atlantic, recently proposed The Case for Abolishing Patents (Yes, All of Them). He couldn't be more right, I'd say, but I also know that the world I love in is not ready for that - just about every first-world country has quagmires of a similar depth.
The Apple vs. Samsung patent fight prompted another blogger to ponder "What if they patented the alphabet?" Yeah, Richard Stallman wakes up screaming over that kind of nightmare.
On this note, I recently made up a little satire about patent law over on my webcomic. It's the story arc called "Protect Patent and Copyright Law Act", starting here and ending here. In it, a character tries to force a bill into law that would make any patent or copyright null and void if the holder is not utilizing that exact patent or copyright in a product currently available for sale. The full idea, outside of the comic-strip panel: In other words, say you own the patent on some kind of light bulb filaments - you have to sell light bulbs, and there has to be your brand of light bulbs available on a store shelf somewhere. When you stop producing and selling light bulbs, there goes your patent - now it's somebody else's turn. If you stop and start again, you'll just have to file for the patent all over again.
We already have the concept of public domain for works that have gone out of copyright - we used to have limits on intellectual property. They're receding farther and farther into the future as protection gets extended progressively. I say shorten those limits down to the nib. This would prevent patent trolls.
How sneaky of me, to use a work of fiction to sound out an actual idea! What thinkest thou, oh Internet Hivemind? Would that fix the situation at least a little?