Intellectual property, often known as IP (or IPR - intellectual property rights), enables people to own their ideas in the same way that they can own physical property.
The deal with IPR is:- You register your idea or creative work, making it public - for others to learn from. In return your IPR gives you control over your idea and others should pay to use it. This system helps to encourage further innovation and creativity to the benefit of everyone. (NB In certain countries, some IPRs exist without the need for registration. )
Typically, enforcement and litigation are a big part of the successful inventors life. This takes up a massive amount of time and financial resource but, more importantly, it is a huge drain on creative energy.
The patent system does work but it is not an easy ride. Sadly, big companies often pinch ideas from inventors because they know that the cost of enforcement is likely to be prohibitive for them. Many 'start-up' businesses fail because they can't enforce their IPR and protect their market position. As well as being a tragedy for the fledgling business (and its investors), this represents a waste of tax payers' money because governments often provide grants to assist business 'start-ups'.
I believe we need better education both at public and government level, to understand how the IPR system works in the real world.
The enforcement process needs improvement to provide a level playing field so that the little guy has parity with the multi-national conglomerate. The patent system should encourage innovation, rather than imitation and IP should be an asset for inventors, rather than a potentially devastating liability. See inventors' wish list.