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Loosely, something that is new.  Novelty is one of the requirements for obtaining a patent.  A supposed invention may fail the novelty test for many different reasons.  For instance, nothing can be novel if it was known or used by others in the U.S. before the invention date claimed in a patent application.  Similarly, nothing can be novel if it was patented in any country more than a year before the date of the present patent application.  See 35 U.S.C. § 102.