There are some people out there who believe that patents are stifling and that the law can be too restrictive, cutting off innovation. There are certainly some strong arguments for this – over the years, there have been some terrible patent wars that have brought companies to their knees and really made certain entities question whether or not the pursuit of invention is worth the hassle. Think of Charles Goodyear or Elias Howe Jr. who both brought patent infringement suits against their own licensees. Those kinds of cases are frustrating and cast a shadow over the idea of patents.
On the other hand, what if patents didn’t exist? What if there were no laws governing intellectual property? On one hand, you could say that there would be more open-source material out there. That people would be more willing to share their ideas. But think about human nature: we are protective. We want to make sure that we are properly credited for our ideas, and we want to be sure that our ideas are being used in the way they were originally intended. If there were no protection, we would not have these guarantees.
In all likelihood, if patents weren’t possible, people would hold their ideas close and keep them secret until they were fully developed. At least with the ability to patent work, people are free to generate an idea without even building it! They can then choose whether or not to develop it themselves, license it to someone else, or scrap it all together. The patent actually gives them freedom!
The world of intellectual property law is complicated and intimidating. It can be scary entering into the market for the first time. Just remember that patents were originally designed to protect the people with the ideas. The world needs ideas! Keep dreaming; keep innovating; and keep researching your options to get your work out there. The system will work in your favor if you let it.