Another Obvious Patent?

Microsoft has been granted a patent on Method and system for providing service listings in electronic yellow pages.

Briefly described, the present invention provides a method and system for allowing merchants that are outside of a given geographical boundary, but provide service to the geographical boundary, to be included in a result set (e.g., of a bounded query) despite the merchant’s actual physical location being located outside the geographical boundary. In addition, the system permits the merchant’s listing to be included in a result set for a proximity query directed to a location in the area. To this end, the present invention provides additional location bindings (e.g., ZIP codes) in which the regional service merchant provides services, but in which the regional service merchant does not have a physical address. A binding is created between the regional service merchant and each business and each category to which the regional service merchant belongs.

So if I’m not located within a certain zip code but provide services in a particular zip code then the “invention” is that an additional reference entry will be inserted for me so that I’ll come up on searches for that zip code? I thought Yellow Pages had been doing this for ages.

And did anyone notice that it took almost 5 1/2 years to process this patent?