Some company called Contois accused apple today of infringing their patent on UI for music playing application. The patent has such a generic description that you write a command line program for playing music, you would still be violating some section of the patent! A fine example for how crappy the patenting business is! If I ever asked to design a player, I would have invariably come up with a similar interface, with out the slighest knowledge of existence of such a darning patent, because it was a natural way of organizing music.
Think about being over-protective about your stuff for the fear of divulging in too much information, while in reality sharing could have actually got in more business? Yeah, thats an undesirable side effect of patenting. (or is it a mainstream effect?)
We should realize that sharing and co-operation are the key in the new economy.