This would leave the economic reward for innovation intact, but remove the constraints on the benefits that come when a single company wields that innovation. The purchase of the patent would have to involve a thorough valuation, where the likely economic benefit to the company would be compensated with a lump sum payment. Maybe the company could still have first dibs on contracts arising from the patent.
Another option would be to somehow facilitate or subsidize licensing agreements between the patent-holder and other companies that could potentially utilize the patent. Such an entity would need to have large purchasing power and broad reach, maybe a US or UN organization.
There are movements of similar spirit already afoot, where companies in non-competing industries are pooling patents and licenses in "Creative Commons." (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/business/01proto.html?_r=1&scp=10&sq=green+companies&st=nyt)
CATEGORY: Economic / Political / Social
IDEATION: November 2, 2009.