In my briefings with companies I hear about a lot of business "process" or "method" patents. Some of them strike me as overly broad, some are interesting and important, and some are just stupid (that the U.S. government would allow such patents).
There's lots of litigation ahead — maybe I should go back to being a lawyer — to resolve conflicts in ambiguous patents that run up against real world companies' technologies and business models.
What brought this up (beyond too much coffee this a.m.)? Here's an interesting post by Search Engine Journal's Loren Baker about Google behavioral targeting and personalization patent filings (with a bunch of local/geotargeting implications too).
Meanwhile "post-search" (a form of behavioral targeting) provider AlmondNET already has patents that may bump up against some of the things that Google wants to do (according to speculation in the SEJ post). Yahoo! has also been experimenting with behavioral targeting.
If they in fact conflict — and I'm not trying to argue that point — the government should deny the application(s). But given the complexity and ambiguity of these types of filings it probably will not.
Then what you have is tantamount to an IP litigators full employment act. That's the problem with the whole category of method patents.