According to The New York Times, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has received a more than triple increase in patent applications over the past 20 years. However, this flood of patent applications does not necessarily reflect a mirrored increase in tangible innovations. An increase in certain kinds of business litigation over this time period and an investigation by the Government Accountability Office indicate that many of these patents are filed for abstract, overly broad and vague ideas.
Patent protections allow individuals and businesses to monopolize a particular creation or form of intellectual property for a certain period of time and subject to certain restrictions. Therefore, patents are incredibly valuable to those that hold them. In addition, patents allow those that hold them to sue alleged infringers of these rights for damages.