In 1623 the very first patent law was enacted. It was not until 1710 when the Statute of Anne, the precursor of modern copyright, was written. Those documents were quite limited in scope and they were restricted to only a few types of information.
Intellectual property as a concept is quite modern; it was not until recently that a broader interpretation of IP came across. Within the last few years the concept of Intellectual Property has grown in popularity, mainly in the United States; since then they have been struggling with nations from the rest of the world to comply with their IP agenda.
Many myths have surrounded the struggles between groups that are in favor or against IP. The most important myth, and the one that most IP supporters hold is that intellectual property is necessary to create incentives for the production of original works. Affirming this is stating that creativity is dependant on monopolies, which is not entirely true.
Even though many inventors, musicians and artists feel motivated by the fact that their work is finally protected by exclusivity rights there have been cases in which monopoly would not have helped. Take the example of the software industry. Their major development happened while there were no limitations of intellectual property; the industry ended up being one of the most creative, flourishing and promising areas in the modern world. Now it has become another basic in human life. Most software programmers rely on technological tools designed by someone else in order to have their programs running safely and efficiently.
With the introduction of the patent law into the area of computers, individual programmers fear that large technological corporations may start claiming ?ownerships? over certain techniques.
There are still many issues concerning intellectual property. What can be done by now is to use common sense in terms of legal battles and lawsuits. Even though the law will protect your position it will be good that you give it a second thought before making a legal suit.