To my knowledge, these patents provide no value to the company or society beyond being a negotiating tool if another company tries to sue them for infringing a patent.
That is to say, the only use these patents have are for big companies, so it's unsurprising that big companies, concentrated in a few metro areas, are the only ones wasting time to create them.
In fact, most people doing research in that area know that very well, but then, it seems there are no alternatives to patents (which are standardize, public, easy to access, and can be tracked across even centuries..).
Now, I am as leery of patents as a metric as anyone here, but
I wonder if your context is software or “tech” patents. I am probably in the minority but I do regularly read patents in order to teach myself the basics of esoteric subfields e.g cutting edge (not bleeding edge) industrial chemistry. Ok, as an interested layman (and therefore a reasonable constituent of “the society” of which you speak) I might be wrong about how cutting edge it is, but I usually feel enlightened after one of these forays. Probably not the intention of the patent writers..
EDIT: I try to read the latest papers too, but I find that patents help to provide the missing context
EDIT: this contemporaneous HN thread provides another example of the usefulness of patents
It's basically impossible to write any software without infringing on some patent, so it's only a matter of time once a company gains some visibility before a competitor tries to put a damper on their growth with a patent suit. Licensing a portfolio of a few thousand patents for a few years lets a smaller company fight back (since the competitor is almost certainly infringing on some of those garbage patents).