@evildictaitor: Can you give me a concrete example of $100m research project, that takes $5m to copy? And how fast can bring a copy of a $100m research project to market?
Microsoft would be first and allowed to reap the benefits of the idea, then competitors would be able to make cheaper versions, driving competition and consumer choice. If we want a Kinect-like device as a consumer now, we can only buy from Microsoft. That's a bad thing. Same with Apple and Samsung, consumer choice is hurt.
A comparison between company A and B makes for nice examples, but it's never just A and B, you have many players in the market!
Let's say company A is a copy cat. Companies B to Z make telephones. B to Z have R&D budgets ranging from $1m to $300m. Company A has to pick from the products of B to Z for ideas to copy from. How much is it going to spend trying to reverse engineer ideas from each individual company? How is company A ever going to have any market share if it constantly late in the market? It will have none, it will always be the cheap half baked version of a better idea. So while company A may survive, it will never be as successful.
You can see this in every aspect of the market. Innovative companies that do things differently lead the markets, not the copy cats. So no need to protect the innovative companies. They are protected naturally. Why do you think Microsoft started doing apps in the first place? Would you have them prohibited by doing so by law?