There was an article in the Washington Post the other day discussing a plan by the founder of Priceline.com to create a collective rights organization for patents. His contention was that patents in the United States are too hard too license, which leads to many innovations going unused and encourages patent troll litigation.
I hope his project succeeds, but I doubt that it will. Unlike a successful CRO such as ASCAP, the complexity of running one for patents is exponentially greater. Patents cover a vast range of subject matter and the value of many patents is hard to ascertain. Songs, by contrast, are very similar to each other and can be administered through a reasonably predictable rate schedule. One could imagine a CRO that focuses on a specific type of patent, but even that seems hard.
I’m not sure that we have too many unlicensed patents. We just have too many patents, though the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. has significantly limited software patents.