Anyone who has worked in the interactive TV industry knows that patents and the protection of those patents holds the industry back. One company actually has a patent on the tabular display of programming information on a TV screen (among other basic concepts) which makes it hard to get any work done before you can create anything.
Now we are seeing more evidence of the patent protection revenue model with threats by Sonicblue to sue TiVo if a patent licencing deal can't be made.
Just think about the implications for the Internet if MSFT owned a patent for rendering markup languages in a distributed network environment (ie, html on the internet). :^p