Neither my heart nor my head support the idea that law departments should strive to be a profit center (See my post of April 27, 2008: profit center with 18 references.). Law departments should focus on productivity, quality and legal risk management (See my post of April 8, 2009: the three horsemen of every general counsel.).
That said, if a legal team can help monetize corporate intellectual property, that is commendable. So, if the patent lawyers can rummage around and find some “fallow patents” that other companies deem valuable, or even contribute the patents to a consortium that benefits the industry, let’s give a cheer (See my post of March 27, 2009: secondary patent market.). As one instance of this, at a recent conference, a senior lawyer from AT&T mentioned that his company has sold some patents that had value to other companies but not to his.