That is one way to see it. Another way is to think about it is people are forced to find even better ways to design for a similar problem. I sometimes wonder if Apple didn’t patent the swipe to unlock, if we would even have fingerprint reading on our phones. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Having that said, you can only patent the ornamental part of your UI. So I don’t think you could patent universal features like…scrolling…or horizontal scrolling…or basic tabs. But you could make your tabs have flowers growing out of them on click with petals falling on scroll.