Former Intel CEO criticizes US patent system

Chicago (IL) – A former Intel CEO has criticized the US patent system for “limiting” the reach of invention and serving “only those who invest in the patent-product.”

Andrew Grove, who led Intel from 1987 to 1998, made the scathing remarks after receiving a lifetime achievement award at the 37th annual National Inventors Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“50 years ago, the inventor was also the producer. Today, the inventor may work for one entity while the production or distribution is done by another. Patents have become products themselves, instruments of investment, traded on a separate market, often by speculators motivated by getting a high return on their investment,” said Grove.

According to Grove, the link between patent-products and “real” products was in danger of being severed.

“The relationship between this patent-product and the underlying ‘real’ product is getting more and more remote. These patent-products bring financial derivatives to mind. Derivatives have a complex relationship to an underlying asset. Just like patents, initially financial derivatives benefited the public. However, the unfettered use of stand-alone financial instruments has damaged the financial services industry and maybe the entire economy. Do these patent instruments put us on a similar road?”

Grove, who was one of the first Intel employees, is currently a senior adviser at the California-based company.