Apple's suing HTC for infringing on 20 iPhone patents, but what will this mean to the cellphone market?

According to Eric Von Hippel, a professor of technological innovation at MIT, it'll be bad news for consumers in the end:

It's a bad scene right now. The social value of patents was supposed to be to encourage innovation - that's what society gets out of it. The net effect is that they decrease innovation, and in the end, the public loses out.

It's doubtful that we'll find out how right Von Hippel is anytime soon though, because cases like this one "can last many years, sometimes five or 10," assuming they're not settled out of court. But I don't exactly see Apple or HTC being in a rush to settle here. [NY Times]