I don't want the debate the value of IP protection in competition or even the merit of individual patents, but I see a lot of comments on how an "overworked" US patent office grants non-sensical (particularly process-based) patents. If foreign patent markets are less overworked, is it conceivable that a product (let's take for example, saaaay, the Palm Pre) is manufactured/released abroad, and just not in the US?

I tried to research the overseas validity of a US patent grant, and apparently it's not automatic (e.g. due to bilateral agreements, etc.):

Here's a paragraph from export.gov:

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) streamlines the process for U.S. inventors and businesses wishing to obtain patent protection in other countries. By filing one international patent application with the USPTO, U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 115 countries. For an invention made in the United States, U.S. law prohibits filing abroad without a foreign filing license from the USPTO, unless six months have elapsed since filing a U.S. application. For more on the benefits of filing for an international patent under the PCT see the January 2002 Export America article titled “The Advantages of Using the Patent Cooperation Treaty”.