The text of the opinion is available.
As someone who has been following the patents issued on medical standards, and on the uses of medical standards, I have long been interested in the "obviousness" issue. For a device to be patented, it should be new, useful and non-obvious. The problem is that it can be difficult to determine when a device is obvious.
The Supreme court opinion provides a fascinating discussion of the principles of obviousness. I particularly liked the discussion on pages 12-24, which addressed general issues of obviousness.
One issue related to the use of combinations of prior art in a novel manner. This is the most common way in which software gets patented. With virtually no exception, all software is built from algorithms that were already in existence. The novel combination of prior algorithms can produce a new, non-obvious and useful device.
My [layman's] interpretation of the Supreme Court opinion is that merely putting together prior art to make a new device can only qualify for a patent if the resulting device is unexpected, because people in the field would not be expected to put the prior art together in the manner of the patent or because the result of combining the prior art yielded a result that would not have been predicted by the people in the field.
It seems as though the decision raises the bar for patents, particularly patents that are built on prior art (e.g., all software and most software stanndards). I urge all those involved in software standards to read the Supreme Court decision and draw their own conclusions.
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