My recieved wisdom is that patent pooling was invented to solve a deadlock problem. As I understand the story the sewing machine makers all acquired assorted patents during the early years. Then in the 1850s they sued each other. The courts forced them all to stop production bringing the entire industry to a halt. Shortly after they all all gathered together and invented the patent pool. (This is a half a century before such activity would raise serious antitrust questions.)
Dan Cohen notes that the Shaker’s also pooled their patents. Of course the two cases aren’t quite the same since those religious communities are not natural competitors while the sewing machine manufactures are.
I wonder which came first? Certainly the idea that your theological kin form a club, with lower cost access to various club goods is very old.