We are less innovative now thanks to patents which brings us back to the other conversation you were discussing, if the patent system is not stopped we are all screwed in the long run, just look at the patents on seeds in the US, how are we not driving ourselves to extinction one greedy company at a time.
And the reality of it all is - to quote Isaac Newton "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - that all innovation in technology is "stealing" from what came before. Do not think that mankind in 2014 is somehow smarter or more innovative than mankind in 1941. We only have the technology we have today because we are "standing on the shoulders of giants" who came before us.
Much of what we know today only came about because of the work that originated at DARPA and PARC and has been built upon by others, including IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Sun, and scores of other companies and inventors big and small.