OK, one more time: software patents are bad.

When Facebook was granted US Patent 7,669,123, I talked about it, and you’ve talked back for months; this thing simply should never have been awarded.

I’ve spoken more broadly about software patents, too. They stifle innovation and generally prove close to nothing. They’re a bad idea.

Last February, I pointed out something that bothers me a little bit less, though: when you own a patent (or patents), you need to defend your property, and the “patent troll” business is thriving.

And now Facebook is in the patent troll business. One $40 million payment to Friendster, eighteen patents in pocket, all of them covering social networking.

Again: software patents are a bad idea. But if they’ve going to exist, having them is a great way to go, especially if you have deep enough pockets to defend and enforce them. And Facebook certainly does.

Business change ought to be about actual change, and the patent troll business isn’t that at all. On the other hand, when you can effect change by making new revenue from the assets you already possess, you’re still looking forward. Much as I prefer to bash Facebook most of the time, this move is a winner. At least for them.

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