Former Intel CEO Andrew Grove criticized the current state of the patent system in Silicon Valley at the 37th annual National Inventors Hall of Fame, where he received a lifetime achievement award. Grove stated patents themselves have become products that are instruments of investment, often traded by speculators motivated by the highest financial return on their investment.
"The true value of an invention is its usefulness to the public," he said, quoting Thomas Jefferson. The system in place in the Valley today is moving further and further away from this principle, he added. "Patents themselves have become products. They're instruments of investment traded on a separate market, often by speculators motivated by the highest financial return on their investment."
Grove called this a break from past practice. "The most important invention of our industry, the invention of the transistor, was licensed by AT&T for $25,000," he said. "This allowed the transistor industry to develop and become a flourishing manufacturing industry in the United States."