I must admit that I have mixed opinions about Patents. At one level I am very proud to have a patent issued in my name and having patents is considered very helpful in advancing your career inside IBM. However, I am also very aware and sympathetic to the arguments of people who argue that the current system of granting software patents is fundamentally flawed. I would consider that this particular patent has valid inventiveness and it does seem to still have value 7 years later, but I know that many patents have been registered for ideas of very little merit.
IBM has a similar mixed attitude to patents. At one level IBM are very proud of our record of being the company to whom most patents were granted for over 15 years in a row, but on the other hand IBM are also promoting an initiative to improve the quality standard for patents.