I have a bit of experience with patents and patent litigation. I’ve worked with lawyers to file a few provisional patents and a few non-provisional patents and I helped a friend successfully get a small settlement from a company clearly infringing on his patent (which more or less just covered his legal expenses after many years fighting).
My net/net is that the system is heavily biased towards individuals and companies with lots of money to spend on lawyers. And, towards lawyers themselves. It’s very hard for an individual inventor/entrepreneur to get a patent and successfully defend it in a lawsuit. If you don’t have an extra $100k or more to risk, you have little chance of successfully defending against an infringer or against someone with deeper pockets who claims you’re infringing.
I agree that patent trolls further muddy this water, increase the lawyers’ take and decrease the practical utility of patents for the little guy.