Every week, when new patents are issued, I usually scan through various patents issued to certain companies. Each week, Microsoft usually has somewhere between 40 to 60 new patents. On the other hand, Google has some weeks where they get no patents at all. At most, I think I've seen weeks where Google received three or four new patents. And, of course, to Google's credit, the company has not been aggressive in using its patent portfolio offensively. As far as I know, Google has never sued another company over patents, though there could be cases I do not know about. Yet, that doesn't mean that sometimes a patent issued to the company raises questions. Last week, Google's one patent is for an "interface for a universal search engine."
Basically, the company seems to have patented the ability to search through multiple databases at once (say, a web database, a news database and an images database) and present all the results together on a single page.
What's unclear to me is how anyone "skilled in the art" could consider this a non-obvious solution. This is (and was) the sort of evolutionary improvement that pretty much anyone in the space would have known was coming to search engines. It hardly seems deserving of a patent. My guess is that Google gets these sorts of patents more for defensive purposes, and probably (hopefully?) isn't likely to sue other companies that do something similar. However, just the fact that Google had to spend time, money and effort in securing such a patent seems like a waste of resources.