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It seems there are several companies downloading and analyzing free text generated by users, especially in social media networks. Some have even applied for patents.

Is an automated method to read and understand text generated by users patentable? From what I've read so far, computerized methods for copying a process also done by humans (like calculus) are not patentable.

I found a list of two applications trying to patent such methods:

I would appreciate clarification on which aspects (if any) of this general method might be patentable.

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Part of the answer is in the substance of the invention and part of the answer is in the specific approach to claim wording. The hard and fast rule is that something wholly abstract can't be patented. The difficult part is defining "abstract". It is said that a method that can be completely performed in a human mind is abstract. If a computer is required, it might not be abstract. Claim 1 in the '616 application, as published, mentions a computer but I think it is un-artfully written. It says:

  1. A method, implementable on a computing device, for detecting personal experience event reports from user generated content on the Internet, the method comprising:

    filtering a collection of Internet posts to include only said Internet posts containing personal experience terms; and

    further filtering said filtered Internet posts by removing said Internet posts with non-personal experience terms.

". . . implement*able* on a computer" is most likely to be rejected for not requiring a computer for all instances of the claimed method. If it were "implemented on computer having a processor and memory" it might pass muster.

Claim one on the other application doesn't even mention a computer at all. Of course the applicant can recover by amending to positively require a computer.

Then the substance comes in. Without doing a search I would say the claim 1s are quite broad and there is likely good prior art. However, both of the applications are well written and extensive. There is much detail to fall back on in narrowing clams as they progress through the system.

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