So you're saying that you should only be able to protect your invention if you work for a big company? That's basically shafting all of the small businesses and inventors. We might as well go back to the guild system where you need to know the secret handshake in order to find out the secrets of the trade if we go down that route.
No, but I am suggesting that in 99% of cases that's who files patents.
How do you enter discussions for "a five wheeled vehicle" without telling them that it's got five wheels, or "bread made out of carrots" without telling them that it's made out of carrots?
Don't ask me, I'm not a lawyer. I'm just stating my observations. I think (to use an example from my field) that it would be more along the lines of "we've done some preliminary work investigating a new catalyst for reaction y. Here are the results from our initial experiments/computer models. Would you be interested in collaborating? Yes. *both parties hand over to respective legal departments*.
(in this field you're not going to have done work independently of an organisation but, presumably, if you're seeking VC funding or similar then presumably what will be disclosed and what the other party will be able to do with the disclosed information (regardless as to the outcome of the funding) would be agreed before any disclosures).
Sometimes ideas do just work, and sometimes building ideas takes time. You think Apple would have wanted to invest five years on building a prototype iPhone knowing that until they actually have it on the shelves there's nothing to stop Samsung or Motorola building a copy? You think Microsoft could possibly tell you anything at all about Windows8 if they couldn't patent it until it's market ready?
Microsoft cannot patent "Windows 8". Copyright, yes. And that needs no application - they just right (c) Microsoft on the bottom. Again, Apple cannot patent "the iPhone". They can (apparently) patent the concept of swiping your finger to unlock, which they did (that's a poor example though as I'm assuming the challenge there lay in the (visual) design, not the implementation. I'm no cs student but I guess any moderately competent programmer could have implemented that?). But yes. That's why if you go and work in R&D at a company you may find they actually prohibit taking work to do on the train home, or whatever (different companies have different rules, but they do this). If it gets lost that is the companies assets that have been lost, potentially to their competitors. That's why there's industrial espionage.