> If, indeed, every little thing gets its own patent and the smallest advance is considered "inventive", then it becomes a speculator's game in more than one sense: people try and do the least work for the benefit of a patent ("in the hope of it being inventive") and perhaps try and get as many as they can for the work they have done, seeking to have a solid obstacle in front of their competitors.
As mentioned earlier, novelty is not sufficient to get a patent granted, there is a requirement for non-obviousness/inventive step, exactly to stop the smallest advance. As the premise fails the rest does not hold.
Nevertheless I would really like to know why you believe "try and get as many as they can for the work they have done" translates into "a solid obstacle in front of their competitors". A few quality patents or even patent applications tend to be better and also cheaper than a shotgun approach with many low quality patents or applications.
> I don't see how it can be ethical to grant a monopoly to people for something that could well be developed independently within those 18 months of secrecy, either.