A patent consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor for a limited period of time, usually 20 years in the United States in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention. But is that public disclosure really give the inventor to take full advantage of his intellectual property?
For instance, the inventor of the steam engine, James Watt once laments “that in life there is nothing more foolish than inventing, here I work five or more years contriving an engine, and Mr. Moore hears of it, is more evil, gets three patents at once, publishes himself in the newspapers, hires 2,000 men, sets them to work for the whole world in St. George’s Fields, gets a fortune at once, and prosecutes me for using my own inventions.” 
It was only recently that Apple and Samsung went to court for claims that Samsung new smartphones infringed Apple’s patents. And the result_ Apple would retrieve $1b for the infringement that was only 1.5% of the total revenue of Samsung.
If the patent law does not effectively exclude others (especially those who have opulent financial resources to tap into the promises of a great invention and get away with light financial punishment), is it still a fair distribution of entitlement in the technological society? Is an inventor far better off creating something in a lab secretly without spending a hefty chunk of his financial resources to file a patent?
In addition, is 20 years really a fair period of time, considering some technologies takes years to materialize an idea to a commercial product? Consider a case of developing a medical device: A small biotech firm does a lot of research in a subject and eventually comes up with an idea for a treatment that postpones aging! It builds a prototype and files a patent. But the clinical trials will take more than 20 years to effectively determine how long actually the treatment can postpone aging? Is patent law really serving to protect the firm’s economic rights in this situation?
Finally, if two inventions reach the same end product, independently from each other, file for patent right at the same time, the inventor who comes up first with the idea wins the patent right. In this case, the court usually draws evidence from the laboratory records and design history notes to determine who comes up with the successful idea first. But is it also a fair treatment for the losing party, considering that a lot of effort and financial resources were committed into creating something that helps the society, especially when they do not commit any infringement because they simply do not know there existed another party that also pursue the same end using a similar method?
Is there anyway to modify the existing patent law to reach a fair solution to the three scenarios mentioned above? What is your opinion?