Apple vs Palm IP stuff

With the suspicion of apple/palm going into battle (, Apple vs. Palm: the in-depth analysis | Engadget) it makes me wonder a few things as a designer.

When creating concepts, how much do you take into consideration patents? Obviously, you dont want an exact product. However, after hearing about the patent process (keeping some pending just so you can change it to screw an emerging product), how frustrating can it get? How far in depth do you have to research in order to not get into trouble?