I wrote something that could fall under this patent, I think. And I went trolling through the archives, and damn, I think this is the first hint of its existance, Feb 21, 2001, six months after the patent was filed for. No claims of beating them to the punch for me.
Have to admit I haven't read it carefully, though. I have a headache right now and reading Yet Another Dumb Patent is one of the most reliable ways I could think of to make it worse.