Here is an EXCELLENT
article on the obvious yet apparently unintended side-effects of a patent system gone awry.
You can read it on the Fortune Website.
Unfortunately the author makes an inaccurate comparison with the infotech industry at the end. He doesn't realize that the same kind of stifling that's killing the medical industry is slowly destroying the software industry as well. Pretty much, all the arguments about stifling innovation and driving up costs are true of the software industry as well.