Read this article in the NYT today (Patent Auctions Offer Protections to Inventors - The New York Times)
To me this looks very promising. Once you can make something like a patent into a commodity, you can assign values to it very quickly. It takes lots of pressure off of the individual inventor, and allows them to keep innovating while not spending huge sums of money in litigation.
One thing that occurs to me is that large companies now find themselves in a new environment where they can easily ask themselves, " Is it cheaper to just buy the idea or engineer a way around it without infringing?" With these new mechanisms for establishing the value of patent ideas, they will be able to more quickly make that determination. This will most often work out in the favor of the inventors, especially if they drafted their claims carefully and their idea is obviously valuable.