Could Patents and Greed Sink Silicon Valley?

Last Saturday night there was a star laced event which included all of the big wigs of Silicon Valley. The guest speaker was a the former CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove, who painted a picture that Silicon Valley could be heading the way of Wall Street. He cited the transistor as a prime example of what he perceives has gone wrong. When the transistor was invented, AT&T licensed the technology for $25,000, which allowed the industry to flourish.

In an article at C/Net it states the following:

“As we celebrate the accomplishments of the last 50 years, I can’t help but wonder if the next 50 years will be equally productive,” Grove told a crowd at the Computer History Museum. “I’m dubious.”

He also added this:

“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.”

But isn’t this the main problem with our corporate society in all endeavors?  Isn’t it greed that makes the corporate world function without any regard towards the common good?

Why would Silicon Valley be any different?

Comments welcome.

Source.

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I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • Ryan Farmer

    Well, software patents need to be either done away with or completely reworked.

    What you see is, that companies have to be real careful what they do or they step onto another company’s patent.

    Microsoft has pushed for and bribed for a lot of these pro-software patent laws, and every once in a while you see them get sued under the same kind of law they were pushing for.

    They know that this will happen, and to them it’s an inevitable cost of doing business.

    Microsoft is not really a software company so much as they are a software patent company, Windows is not really unique or special as far as operating systems go, but Microsoft has learned how to make equivalent and incompatible “features” and use these to trap people into using their stuff.

    This is what things like DirectX (counterfeit of OpenGL), WMA (Counterfeit of MP3), etc. are all for.

    Maybe at the end of the day some of their stuff performs a little better under certain loads or has a nice feature the other guy doesn’t, but it’s not interoperable.

    If MS was for real about wanting to work with open source, they would replace their “covenant not to sue” with a true public domain specification.

    I don’t think the Silicon Valley Patent Trolls are as great of a threat to the industry as the one sitting in Redmond, Washington.

    By the way, I can’t help but wonder if using Ogg Vorbis on many Microsoft Game Studios titles, and third parties such as Epic Games using it (both Gears of War) is a tacit admission that Vorbis is better?

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  • http://hallingip.com Dale B. Halling

    There is nothing wrong with research – i.e., patents being the product. The antipatent crowd has held sway for over 10 years now and innovation is down not up. The lack of innovation in Silicon Valley is due to Sarbanes Oxley, weakening of the patent system and the FASB rules on stock options. As a result, it is easy to steal the innovation of start-up companies, start-up companies are unable to go public and start-up companies have trouble hiring human talent.

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