This is so cool. Joel Spolsky tells how he shot down a garbage software patent with only a 15 minute effort. He did that by using his new Stack Exchange site Ask Patents, a site on which anyone, including patent examiners, can ask for prior art on a patent application. Spolsky says the process is simple and easy. Read the questions and if you see something that you know about, read the patent application—actually just part of it—and do a bit of Google searching to find examples of prior art. Read Spolsky's post; it's easier than I'm making it seem.
Spolsky says he hopes that some of the big players will realize that this is a way of messing with the competition and assign an engineer or two to spend a bit of time on the Ask Patents site. As he says, that would be cool.