Patent farms are holding companies that buy small companies for their IP. Certainly the start-up company needs the protection provided by the patent, but the acquiring company has not placed the development effort into the IP. The acquiring company then issues "submarine patents" that only change the claims subtly, thus keeping the patent alive for another 20 years. They are making millions/billions from common sense circuit applications which you and I accept as common sense. Examples include: white LED (vs. colored LEDs) dimming by PWM, capacity gauging of batteries, etc.
Patent Farms, the scourge of technology
These patent farms are winning because they have manipulated the system to their advantage. How do we design our technology within an external market system that leaves your company open to patent suits? What does this mean for an individual who wants to files for a patent when there are overwhelming costs to defend it?