Gary Price has a nice roundup of ten search patents and patent applications. In Gary's entry, he noted of two patents that have been awarded Yahoo on February 28th. The first is named Targeted advertisements using time-dependent key search, which (based on a 1 minute look) seems to be about serving ads to users based on past search queries and user profiles. The second awarded patent is named Canonicalization of terms in a keyword-based presentation system, which (based on a 2 minute look, needed more time for this one) seems to be about taking different words and applying the same meaning to them (i.e. plural/singular forms, gender forms, stem word forms, suffix forms, prefix forms, typographical error forms, word order, pattern ignoring, acronyms, stop word elimination, etc) based on user profile data. Seems like Yahoo is or wants to get very detailed with its ad program.
Gary also linked to a patent application named Accelerating user interfaces by predicting user actions which he believes this is associated with Google. This patent application seems to be very A.I. related, "anticipating user" activity and "interfaces" by monitoring "a user's browsing activities" and then inferring "one or more next documents that are most likely to be requested by the user." Scary?
Gary also links to four Microsoft patent applications, a Sonic Solutions patent application on video search, an IBM patent application and an other patent application, search related. Check them all out at Resource Shelf.