The big trouble with software patents is that it is not very clear what it is reasonable to patent.
Following the analogy in , a piece of software is pretty much like a novel, like say, Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The hound of the Baskerville". Many different pieces of software can implement the same "idea", pretty much like many novelists have written detective stories after Sherlock Holmes' first appearance. However, no-one would think reasonable to patent the characters of a novel, or a kind of plot, such as detective stories. This would have prevented many masterpieces to have been ever written! And what if a bad writer with many good starting ideas patents them all? He can sue, blackmail, or even reduce to silence many potential future Nobel Prizes...for having used ideas similar to the ones patented.
That makes no sense at all, doesn't it?
Nevertheless it is what happens with software patents. In the US, companies have patented thousands fairly trivial ideas  (such as the scrolling bar!), and can prevent others to implement them, bringing them to court.
Even worse, patents can be sold and used to get money from companies that have started a successful business using ideas more or less related to what has been patented  or, to "kill" possible competitors.
To sum up, there are many people in Europe that think that software patents are a dangerous nonsense. In case you start to consider that there might be a problem if EU imports patents (see , ,  for some studies and opinions) it is important to act now, maybe joining  and , or writing directly to your representatives in the European Parliament to make them aware of your opinion.
In any case, take some minutes to have a look at the material below, and make up your mind NOW. Software patents are being debated and can become a reality very quickly without any serious discussion about their effect.
 On the effect of patents ...
Some interesting personal homes:
Comments and suggestions to Susanna Pelegatti
susanna /antispam/ di.unipi.it (replace /antispam/ with @)