The inventor of the method described in the patent is John Thrall. The head of media search engineering at Yahoo Search is John Thrall.
Click-through re-ranking of images and other data.
Here's a snippet from the patent application:
The present invention overcomes the deficiencies and limitations of conventional search engines by using feedback obtained by user clicks and the position of the clicked images to determine user preferences for the search results that best satisfy particular queries. While the embodiments described relate to image data, the present invention can also be used for other types of data such as shopping, video, music, and text searches. For example, the present invention can be used with any type of search where a summary of search results provides detailed and representative information on the content that the user will receive when clicking on the result. User click information is tracked to determine which images users click on for particular queries. This information is used to update and improve future query results.
It's difficult to tell, but if I were Yahoo!, the person I would want as the head of media search engineering would write patent applications like this one.