I think the patent system is contrary to a "free/open" market in this day and age where even relatively simple things can be reverse engineered or analogs synthesized to be a new but essentially similar copy. The more complex the easier this process gets from a certain stand point. I often notice clones of established items to be Superior to the original; most notably open-source software often out preforms the comparable even top paid programs for a specific task. OK, my opinion of the apple Samsung issue is; apple's failing on the innovation side of late so their legal and strategic marketing teams needed to find a way to prevent Androids exploding popularity from affecting their balance sheet. Dig back far enough and you'll find OpenBSD. Apple utilizes their code like many other companies. I understand charging for hardware as necessary but proprietary claims on code and inducing bans isn't a health way for large corporations to be competing; in my mind there are innumerable problems should such as this become common place in a world wide market. Regarding Samsung's counter suit; at least they've got "Real" world documentable lost profits as a result of this utter nonsense and regardless of how they go about it they seem somewhat justified in attempting to get it. (Too bad a patent lawsuit is their only real chance of getting it)
*Included below for readers not familiar w/the reference to OpenBSD*
(**"see"**) for apple ref example...
OpenBSD is a Unix computer operating system descended from Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a Unix derivative developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It was forked from NetBSD by project leader Theo de Raadt in late 1995. As well as the operating system, the OpenBSD Project has produced portable versions of numerous subsystems, most notably PF, OpenSSH and OpenSSL, which are very widely available as packages in other operating systems.
-The project is also widely known for the developers' insistence on open-source code and quality documentation, uncompromising position on software licensing, and focus on security and code correctness. OpenBSD includes a number of security features absent or optional in other operating systems, and has a tradition in which developers audit the source code for software bugs and security problems. The project maintains strict policies on licensing and prefers the open-source BSD licence and its variants—in the past this has led to a comprehensive license audit and moves to remove or replace code under licences found less acceptable
The OpenBSD project maintains ports for 17 different hardware platforms, including the DEC Alpha, Intel i386, Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC, AMD AMD64 and Motorola 68000 processors, **Apple's PowerPC machines**, Sun SPARC and SPARC64-based computers, the VAX and the Sharp Zaurus