At IBM thirty years ago I reviewed a bunch of invention disclosures, seeing a number of software "inventions" which were pretty obvious to me. Nowadays we hear about software patents, obvious ones, getting people into court.
This really needs fixing, and the folks at peertopatent.org are bringing a "wisdom of crowds" or crowdsourcing approach, which has a good chance of getting something done:
Peer-to-Patent is a historic initiative that opens the patent examination process to public participation. Developed by New York Law School in cooperation with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Peer-to-Patent allows the public to submit information to the USPTO that they believe would be useful to the examiner in deciding whether or not an invention is truly deserving of a patent. Anyone interested in participating in this groundbreaking project can go to peertopatent.org or dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent to learn more.