Matt Yglesias has had a few posts up (most recently here) about technology patents and their role in (both good and bad) in the economy.
So a bunch of patents have recently been sold by one company for a cool $4.5 billion. This is but a small part of the total value of patents. This doesn't even touch on the money put into suits and planning on how to use patents to stifle innovation and competition. The things are valuable.
My snarky observation is that whatever business or organization came up with the idea of patents and was able to enforce them, it should be making a mint off the things and paying a huge dividend to its shareholders. Off course, its the government that has created this valuable instrument and we shareholder are gripped with the bizarre belief that our prosperity is dependent upon giving these things away for free. Sigh.