Startups and software patents

Dave W points to Strangeberry, a startup that are doing a Java rendition of Rendevous.

“Interesting!” I think, as I go to their site and browse the founders’ resumes, where I find something rather disturbing. What I find is that various US Patents are being paraded. These patents seem to be predominately for software, methodologies, rather than inventions. Picking one at random, US6226654: Web document based graphical user interface – this seems to be using specific web technology components (HTML forms and graphics, for example) for exactly the use they were originally intended (GUI-in-browser). How the heck can you patent that?

Call me naive, call me an old fogey, but I do question the use of patents for programs and applications of software. At least the Strangeberry people aren’t trying to keep them a secret (in fact, quite the opposite!)