Bill Gates patent on “personal data mining”

Bill Gates is listed as an inventor of United States Patent, 7930197, issued April 19, 2011, for “Personal data mining.”

What did Bill Gates claim to have invented regarding data mining? According to the patent Abstract:

Personal data mining mechanisms and methods are employed to identify relevant information that otherwise would likely remain undiscovered. Users supply personal data that can be analyzed in conjunction with data associated with a plurality of other users to provide useful information that can improve business operations and/or quality of life. Personal data can be mined alone or in conjunction with third party data to identify correlations amongst the data and associated users. Applications or services can interact with such data and present it to users in a myriad of manners, for instance as notifications of opportunities.

The Assignee is Microsoft.

These are a few quotes from the patent:

In particular, a computing model/architecture that utilizes thin clients and robust computing resources that are maintained off-premise (e.g., third party) and are accessible over a WAN such as the Internet. In such a computing model, a collection of hardware and/or software resources, also known simply as the cloud, can be utilized to provide applications and/or services, store data, process data and maintain data security, inter alia. This relieves end users of being forced to perform various tasks, including installing several applications on multiple computers, maintaining security with respect to each computer, purchasing hardware for a server for increased storage and other laborious tasks.


The data repository(s) 114 is operable to store personal user data associated with a plurality of users. In one instance, such data can include data generated by a user, owned by a user or otherwise linked thereto. By way of example, this data can include but is not limited to personal management information (PIM data), pictures, videos, documents, e-mail, instant messages, addresses, calendar dates/scheduling information (e.g., birthdays, anniversaries, appointments . . . ), voice mail, phone logs, RSS feeds, subscriptions, bookmarks, mail lists, project management features, computing device data, tasks and location data. In one instance, such data can be supplied by individual users via one or more devices 120. Additionally or alternatively, user data can be provided by third parties such as purchase data, identity data, web interaction, etc.

This is one of many patents on Internet searches and marketing practices that list Bill Gates as a co-inventor.

It’s hard to understand what exactly constitutes an “invention” in this patent. The descriptions at least are incredibly general and involve obvious things many firms probably already do.