They also protect people from corporations. See the small time inventor that comes up with some novel household product, they put in the work to get it made, work on marketing etc. then they get a meeting with say, Home Depot or Lowes to see if they would sell the object. Home Depot and Lowes look it over carefully, let their designers take a look..then decide, "no thanks, have a nice day" A month later they are selling the exact same thing, killing this persons idea and dream. If that person doesn't have a patent on this invention, they are totally fucked with no recourse. They spent months or years and thousands or tens of thousands of dollars trying to get this product to market, only to have some corporation take it with no repercussions whatsoever. But that's OK right? Everyone should do work for free for fucking multi-billion dollar corporations.