Kirby Ferguson, in his Ted Talk, explains why we are not (and not supposed to be) entirely self made when it comes to our creativity. Instead he proposes that the raw elements of creativity is to copy, transform and combine.
I agree with him — it is the transformation and the combination of the influences in one’s mind that lead to uniqueness of ideas, but on a certain level, all ideas are influenced. We as humans share our social, natural and psychological worlds with one another, and this fact has allowed to collaborate for better results. We have, over thousands of years, evolved to depend on each other.
When Isaac Newton said he was able to see so far because he was standing on the shoulders of giants, he acknowledged the works of Copernicus before him. Nothing and no one can take away the work Newton did, and its profound effect on the path science took after him, but we have to recognise that ideas are meant for humanity. Science and art are meant for humanity. The promotion of the progress of useful arts should look better than a bunch of lawsuits with people owning ideas to maximise profits. Legal assaults like this, as Ferguson pointed out with the example of a young Steve Jobs against Xerox, can bar creatives with limited power. Moreover expecting too much from oneself at the beginning of an artistic journey can put a lock on the freedom and confidence that innovation requires.
If patents are to exist in order to minimise the loss aversion of those who’s ideas are mimicked in the business world by those who choose not to transform and combine them in their own way, they should be more complex than the ones that exist in the world today.