SCOTUS says you can't patent something if others have been using it for some time already.
The emphasis there is mine.
Now, as Pamela Jones, editor of the intellectual property law news site Groklaw, noted, "The standout paragraph" in the decision written by Supreme Court Justice
Anthony Kennedy read:"We build and create by bringing to the tangible and palpable reality around us new works based on instinct, simple logic, ordinary inferences, extraordinary ideas, and sometimes even genius. These advances, once part of our shared knowledge, define a new threshold from which innovation starts once more. And as progress beginning from higher levels of achievement is expected in the normal course, the results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws. Were it otherwise patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts."Jones, a paralegal, observed, "The court has raised the obviousness bar, or as they probably view it put it back where the founding fathers meant it to be."
The rest of the story indicates that, because of the costs of initiating a patent case, we're not likely to see a tonne of such in the near future. The bigger issue IMO is that the SCOTUS has finally made a rational decision in regards to an OBVIOUS situation: people getting patents on things which A LOT of folks have doing for years.
My inner optimist hopes this points to less support for the kind of Top Down hegemonic sadism Justices Roberts and Alito represent with their conclusions about the powers of the Chief Executive. I know that's a wee stretch (lol!) but when straws are all one's got, one had better get graspin' at 'em.