I'm not a geek, but I love reading patents and papers. I'm definitely not at the level of detailed understanding that some people are (especially the maths), but I get enough out of them so they're worth reading, and they can be very useful.
I can't deal with them online, so I've got tons of them printed out and actually do read them. I'd suggest printing out the ones you want to get into, it's definitely a MEGO activity (My Eyes Glaze Over). I find they takes more than one reading - and keeping pencils and pens handy to underline and take notes in the side columns.
The first thing is to scan through the whole thing so you know which parts get mathematical so you can skip over them - unless you're up to the math, which I'm not. What they're trying for is usually condensed into the abstract, so you have to translate that into understandable wording for yourself - and the very act of re-writing it in simple terms helps clarify it.
The claims are hideously repetitious, but read through them anyway and note which of them they keep referring back to - and mark those. It probably won't be clear at that point, but it gives an idea where they're going.
The description toward the end (after the equation stuff, most of which I have to skip) is the part that'll take going over a couple of times, and once those side-column notes are taken and key parts underlined, it's easier to grasp the concepts and be able to go over the major points.
Just the activity of taking the notes while reading helps to clarify, because it'll usually be factors that express concepts - and what you're mainly going after are the concepts rather than the tough mathematical specifics. You'll find by the second time through that you'll spot specific elements that you can recognize, and while it may not seem so, some of them can be directly applied - and comprehended.
Even though just getting or applying for a patent or publishing a paper doesn't mean they actually "use" the thing, there are generally sound elements to be found in the details that are applicable and useful anyway.