The patenting system has been around since the Greek Empire. Created to protect and encourage innovation. Almost always under a certain time frame, no copying of said protected inventions.
As all tools, the patenting system today has been overly and perversely used. We seem to hear more about Patent litigations rather than innovations. Many patents are overly generic and all encompassing. A highly impacted area is in software. Many companies are filing the latter to protect themselves as they themselves are victims to Patent-trolls.
Impact on Curiosity
As all artists, designers, engineers and other such professions that use creativity know, innovation comes from inspiration and building upon previous discoveries. In fact, knowledge, is most often times not invented but discovered.
Today when you buy something, it is tightly packed and closed off. I wonder whether that is a contributing factor in the general population’s mounting levels of lack of interest in knowledge. The fact that every time companies release devices that carry the latest and greatest knowledge of our species, it is closed off to its owners. Instead of inspiring the flame of curiosity, we are instead muting it.
It’s kind of a chicken and egg problem as companies need to protect themselves from patent-trolls and because of that they need to close off their products. There are grass roots efforts starting to overhaul the patenting system and bring it to 21st century standards.