It’s pretty easy to argue that software patents are bad for the software industry.
Regardless of where you stand on that issue, however, it must at least give you pause when Apple, who not only exercises final approval over what may be sold on the world’s largest mobile software distribution platform, but also has exclusive pre-publication access (by way of that approval process) to every app sold or attempted to be sold there, quietly starts patenting app ideas.
But even if you’re fine with that, how about this: one of the diagrams in Apple’s patent application for a travel app is a direct copy, down to the text and the positions of the icons, of an existing third-party app that’s been available on the App Store for years.
I can’t see how this is even close to OK.
(Update: I’ve posted a followup.)
(Second update: FutureTap responds.)
(Update the third: Apple responds to FutureTap.)