Software should be protected by copywrite, not patent laws! Patenting methods in software development can be a lot like patenting the cog or even the wheel, in short, a f***ing stupid idea! Its unjustified and a serious hindrance to us developers who are just trying to get our job done.
Patent laws came into existence for protecting inventions (physical devices) not ideas! Ideas are too broad a thing to cover. This article explains it better (see the 'mousetrap analogy').
Yet another example of legislative crap the USA legal system (or rather the big greedy corporations that control it) is trying to force down our European necks is the enforcement of software patents created in the USA, in Europe. Stop them! Show them they don't own the whole world and sign the petition now!