What Can Be Protected With a Patent?

     Patents can be obtained on "inventions." Inventions include any new and useful machine, process, article of manufacture, composition of matter (such as a new chemical composition), and improvements on any of these things. Virtually anything that is new and made by man is subject matter eligible for patent protection.
     Certain things have been held not to qualify for patent protection. For example, most "works of authorship" which are protected by copyright, are not patentable. Also, trademarks, which are words or symbols that identify the origin of goods and services, cannot be protected by patents. Other things that would not qualify for patent protection are abstract ideas, pure mathematical manipulations of numbers and laws or products of nature.
     Computer software was originally considered not patentable. However, in recent years the law has changed so that software inventions are often patentable.