Are there sectors where the US patent system still works?

A lot of people (especially in the IT sector) often complains that the patent system is broken. It is exploited by patent trolls, lawyers in big companies, etc. to benefit in a way that is not intended by the patent system. How about in sectors other than IT? I work in IT, but a friend of mine (who works in pharmaceutical) claimed it’s still cool. Inventors are rewarded appropriately, it’s used to encourage innovation, not exploited by lawyers, etc.

Is this true? In what kind of fields is this particularly true?

Patents work for molecules - so sectors like pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, materials etc. Anywhere you would make a composition of matter patent. You can argue that the system should work better, but they’re usually socio-political arguments to do with things like patent length, infringements, costs etc. (certainly there have been some highly contentious patent awards to pharma companies based on next to zero invention), but I don’t think anyone seriously questions the core function of a composition of matter patent - they’re workable, effective, and backed with a century of precedent.

A chemistry patent is usually an excruciating, obfuscatory read; but at the end of the day they’re very simple documents. At the most fundamental level you claim to have invented a molecule, which has never been made before, and it does this. The evidence for your claims will be robust and can be checked / challenged. That is the basis of the patent literature being taken seriously and for chemistry patents ‘working’, in relative terms.

Things get a little less clear cut when you move on to patenting processes, or maybe something like a natural product for a medicine. Younger areas like genetics or computer science are, I would guess, correspondingly more difficult as the terms of reference are still being established.

The high cost of patenting and protecting IP for the small-time inventor is another oft-cited issue - stifling the creative spirit of the wee man. This is not really a problem for composition of matter patents, as the back yard inventor does not generally invent new molecules.

IT is the only sector I have heard about it causing really major problems. But probably everywhere there is a problem of things being patented for which there is prior art.