A Method as Novel as Making Silver Jewelry in Mexico.

Patent cases often are easy to spot on PACER, especially from the docket of the N.D. Cal.  The typical format for the style of the case is E-something vs. I-something, or Patent Holding Portfolio LLC vs. Fortune 500 name.  Familiarity with those style conventions almost made me miss a recently-filed patent case styled, American Mexican Insurance Service, LLC v. International Insurance Group, Inc., 08CV840-EMC.  My current-Bilski interest in post-State Street “methods” patents did cause me to question whether Mexican Insurance might reflect recent criticism of PTO granting patents on known business methods.The Complaint is not available on PACER, but the USPTO website yielded a patent assigned to Int’l Insurance, USP 7,240,017 for “dispensing insurance through a computer network.”  A visit to the American Mexican Insurance website indicated that they arrange coverage for Americans on adventurous travels in Mexico.  That put the matter in the sightlines of the `017 patent, which claims a method to provide “coverage in a country other than the country in which the customer resides.”  Sounds like a match.My adversion to business methods patents revolves around breadth, both in the claim as a whole and in the words used in the claim.  Consider, for yourself, whether the claimed method sounds novel.  It recites the steps of receiving “policy information” from a “plurality of insurance companies” such as “rates,” then contracting with an insurance “agent to sell” a policy as described in the policy information, receiving “customer data,” obtaining rate “calculations,” providing the customer with the “rates,” receiving a “selection from the customer” of a policy and the customer’s “instruction to purchase” and “customer financial” information, and “facilitating” the purchase and distributing a binder of coverage – using a computer network.  If the “other country” term is taken out, would the other steps suggest a novel method of offering, pricing and binding insurance coverage?Even Mexican Adventure insurance is not as novel as it may sound, but apparently it ‘rang the bell’ with the USPTO examiner.