richard stallman, the guiding light behind the free software foundation, talks about the absurdity of patents. it is an interesting thought that patents and the current western idea of 'hoarding' rights to inventions may not be the obvious and right thing for society or humanity as a whole. stallman's suggestion here is that it is not even the obvious and right thing for the individual inventor.
there was a good analysis by petra moser of MIT (search the nbaer site) that showed that patent law did not significantly improve innovation in 19th century europe, contrary to conventional wisdom.
in fact, it is quite likely that the current western-biased patent system is not good for india at all. in particular because the new WIPO rules will be overseen by the us, european union, japan and china! yes, china, the king of IPR violations!
where is india in this, one might ask. very good question. where are you, minister arjun singh? perhaps you could think of doing something useful about this?
in fact, ancient india had a radically different perspective on innovation. you invented, and put it out there in the public domain, without seeking monopoly profits and usually without even signing your name to the invention. it is clear from the explosion of innovation in ancient india that this mechanism was highly beneficial to society in general.
i think the entire patent system needs to be reconsidered from a deontological, ethical perspective, and even from a teleological perspective it may be flawed. (boy, i have been waiting to use those big words somewhere :-)
patent system murdabad! WIPO murdabad! (see, i have used a hindi word. a reader was complaining that i was allergic to hindi.)