Some of the most frequent questions I get asked from investors is, "what is your secret sauce"" or similarly "what is to stop someone else from doing this?" There's a reason these questions get asked is because ideas are stolen and exploited.
I would differ with you Katie, as there is plenty of evidence to support good ideas are stolen...leaving inventors/innovators in the dust. One example, several years ago, there was an NPR story about an inventor(with an issued patent) who went to a very large mass merchant with an idea and prototype. They showed the product and left. Several months later, the product was copied and mass produced by the retailer, making a very nice profit with nothing going to the inventor. Only because the person obtained patent insurance, were they able to seek legal action and won. It may be more common than you think....only just not publicized or they're settled with confidential Agreements.
Inventors/innovators need to protect their ideas in order to benefit from the hard work and effort for achieving success.