More like ten a penny ;)
Agree that many posters have misunderstood what Apple is getting at, but I think it's because they've lost patience.
We had a school computer room full of Macs in the mid-eighties, which could do all sorts of new and cool stuff, and the demos of music sampling and realtime manipulation saw them cooed over at parents evenings. I'm not sure but I doubt they sought patents, it would have already existed in music studios, but they brought it to the desktop and implemented it and impressed people and made a reputation and sales (actually not so sure about sales).
What have they done this time? A holistic volume control. Hardly photoshop or file compression. Car stereos can mute a radio when a call comes in. Attempting to patent, successful or not, is utter, utter bollocks and massively compromises their image as design leaders.
Maybe it's a response to faster development cycles, but a good company would innovate faster, and not expend effort trying to slow everyone else down. Agree with AC above, it smacks of desperation.