any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.
Examples: hardware, software, business methods.
A patent is:
a right granted by government to inventors giving them total control of their invention - the inventors get to decide who, if anyone, can use their invention.
valid for 20 years from the date an inventor files an application, but is enforceable only from the date the patent is approved.
is a published document that establishes specifications and procedures designed to maximize the reliability of the materials, products, methods, and/or services people use every day.
addresses a range of issues, including but not limited to various protocols to help maximize product functionality and compatibility, facilitate interoperability and support consumer safety and public health.
forms the fundamental building blocks for product development by establishing consistent protocols that can be universally understood and adopted.