There are many and deep problems with the patent system as it exists today. I won’t bother rehashing it, but suffice it to say when patents are often weapons held by companies that produce no actual products, and people who are trying to develop new products are actively avoiding looking at existing patents to avoid having knowledge of them, things are seriously broken.
I propose the standard by which something should be patent-able is this: Can a member of your peer group (i.e. your speciality of engineering/design/etc.) reverse engineer your invention. That’s it. If they can look at your invention and derive whate`ver novelty you have introduced as obvious then it should not be patent-able.
This satisfies the original intent of patent law; to ensure that in exchange for protecting your invention for a reasonable period of time as being exclusive for you to exploit, you divulge what is is that you’ve done to push forward the the knowledge of all mankind. If this were held to the volume of patents would drop a thousand-fold. This simple litmus test would drastically curtail bullshit patents that we endure today, restoring the value of patents to their holders, removing the intellectual mine field they have become, and making patents once again a place where new frontiers are pushed forward.