Patents encourage innovation. By granting inventors a monopoly on their inventions for a specific period of time, innovative thinkers are incentivized to put their talents to use, designing products that not only advance society, but can make them rich as well.
While patents are believed to have existed in some form for thousands of years, the first official patent was issued in 1449, when Englishman John of Utynam was granted a 20-year monopoly on a method for making stained glass. Since then, patent systems have been created in countries across the globe.
In the U.S., the patent system was adopted in 1790. That year, all of three patents were awarded to inventors. By1890, nearly 40,000 applications flooded in, and more than 25,000 patents were awarded. Fast-forward to 2014, and the number of applications skyrocketed to more than 615,000 out of which more than 32,600 were granted.
For more information on the growth of patents, both in the U.S. and abroad (including who the only U.S. president to receive a patent for an invention was) check out the below infographic, compiled by Idea Buyer, an online marketplace for intellectual property.