Some stories of interest from the US press:
Net Radio Group Threatens to Sue RIAA in the Washington Post
How to Make a Sonic Purée From Pop Snippets in the New York Times
PATENT BENDING in the New Yorker.
Extract from the latter -
Innovators came up with new ways of selling products, handling
suppliers, running organizations, or managing information. If the ideas were good, the innovators got rich, but they also got
imitated, which made them less rich than they might have been.....
Those were the days. Now the first thing someone with a good notion does is press the government to protect it. Priceline
patented its reverse-auction method for selling cut-rate airline tickets. I.B.M. patented a method for keeping track of people
waiting in line for the bathroom."
This is a bit like getting a patent on the idea of fishing, not a new kind of fishing rod but the idea of fishing itself.