Here's an excellent speech by David Kappos, the Director of the USPTO.
I particularly liked this excerpt: "Software patents, like all patents, are a form of innovation currency. They are also ecosystem enablers, and job creators. The innovation protected by software patents is highly integrated with hardware. All of it must remain eligible for protection. The current software patent “war” is hardly the first patent war—and unlikely to be the last in our nation’s patent history. Whenever breakthrough technologies come onto the scene, market players find themselves joined in the marketplace by new entrants. The first instinct of the breakthrough innovators is to bring patents into play. This is not only understandable, it is appropriate. Those who invest in breakthrough innovation have a right to expect others to respect their resultant IP. However, in the end, as history has shown time and time again, the players ultimately end up agreeing to pro-consumer solutions via licenses, cross-licenses or joint development agreements allowing core technologies to be shared."
Indeed. Of course I'm biased. But the fact remains that without at least one patent application (preferably more) in play, you're not going to get far in generating serious commercial interest in your new software product. And it remains baffling to me why Europe and the other software naysayers don't get on board with this. The future is software and preventing innovators from protecting it adequately by way of patents is short-sighted.
So why the pic? Don't forget that without some meaty algorithms you're going to have troubles...