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back to article Apple granted patent for ebook page-turning

Adding another weapon to the Cupertian arsenal being wielded in the ongoing patent wars, the US Patent and Trademark office has granted Apple a new design patent, D670,713, entitled "Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface". The patent is one the briefest we've seen in our coverage of the strange …

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It's an utter hateful experience

The sooner this pathetic skuomorphic trend is stopped the better. It's so early nineties.

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Re: It's an utter hateful experience

Assuming you mean skeuomorphic, and not some other term I'm unfamiliar with, then agreed. But I wouldn't call it "early nineties". It goes back at least to the "desktop metaphor" in UI design, which I believe was introduced with the Xerox Star in 1981. (I don't believe the Alto used skeuomorphic UI elements, but I don't know much about its UI except as pertains to Smalltalk.)

Since the Lisa, skeuomorphs have been part of the Apple design religion. Donald Norman's books are loaded with them. He sees domain-bridging metaphors everywhere in design - one of his books is titled Turn Signals are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles. That's the sort of thinking that gives you swipe-screen-for-animated-page-turn UI elements.

I find Norman an engaging writer who raises many good points about industrial design, but I think he hugely overrates skeuomorphism as a cueing mechanism (part of what he calls "knowledge in the world", and what someone like Bruno Latour would see as "delegation"). I don't need a hammer to be shaped like a fist to understand what it's for. I don't need to enter text in my computer by handwriting - I learned to use a keyboard; and for that matter, I don't need my keyboard to work like the mechanical typewriters I learned to type on. Give me form that actually follows function, rather than assuming I need it to be "familiar".

In short,[1] this is an odious patent, but if it has the beneficial effect of driving other vendors to come up with other, possibly less stupid UI elements, then Apple's welcome to it.

[1] Too late.

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Devil

That is NOT patentable IMHO.

Absolute BS of the drippiest kind.

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Jad
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RE: Absolute BS

Absolutely, and as soon as they try and use the patent it will be thrown out ...

However, until it is tested it will stand, and that is basically what is wrong with the whole patent process, this should have never got a patent in the first place, and "Prior art" only works for companies in existence at the moment that have used this technology ... if a new player comes to the market then a patent exists to stop them implementing this.

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Not only is it not worthy of a patent but it's also utterly useless. I turn it off in all ereader software that I use as it serves no purpose whatsoever other than to delay the page turning.

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MrT
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it looks very similar to....

... the page turn animation used for the digital version of Incisive Media's Computing magazine, but on a desktop browser Zmags little presentation widget allows any outside corner or leading edge to be curled and rolled over.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it looks very similar to....

Also looks similar to the ebook software on my transformer infinity. MyLibrary

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Childcatcher

Re: it looks very similar to....

It also looks amazingly like...turning a page in a real book, hence obviousness:

"Hey, Mr. Joe Average, who is not even skilled in the art of computer software design or programming and has never seen any fruity product, if you wanted to do an animation to move from one page in your ebook to the next, how would you do it?"

...and the bar for the USPTO is supposedly "skilled in the art."

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> it's also utterly useless.

No it isn't.

The patent does a couple of things:

1) Mainly, it discourages little freeware book reader app devs who don't want to go to court against apple's lawyers, regardless of how easy it might be to invalidate the patent. Apple doesn't want free software around on non-apple systems which might be just as good as their own stuff. With cash to burn on this sort of thing, I wouldn't be surprised to see lots more of this sort of behaviour.

2) it lowers the bar for what is worthy of protection, making other, only slightly less silly patents easier to defend.

The patents don't have to stand up, they just need to create a legal minefield and be harder to invalidate than file. Then google, samsung, redhat, ubuntu and suse et al all have to go through the courts and have all the patents invalidated before they launch a product in the US. FLOSS devs will just move their git repo's abroad, but it makes commercial FLOSS just a little more dangerous and uncertain.

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Re: it looks very similar to....

I seem to remember something very similar in the Lotus '97 suite of programs we had on our old IBM - specifically the diary, which also made the sound of turning the page as well.

I concur with all - this is hogwash of the lowest order.

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Boffin

Design Patent != Utility Patent

Is a DESIGN PATENT - that's a claim for a look-and-feel, not for anything useful.

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20 years

The other big problem with this is the life of the patent ... As far as i know it will stand until December 2031.

Now I am all for protecting intellectual property and investment in IP but I'm pretty sure that Apple didn't put a vast amount of research and development into this sort of thing to the extent that it needs protecting 20 years.

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Jackanory - time

Yep, yet another children's tale.

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So a patent for producing an animation which copies real life? Hardly an inspired idea is it.

God help the first mouse that learns to speak, Disney are gonna be on them like a ton of bricks!

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Isn't realistic page turning part of the Silverlight sample code from years ago?

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Don't know about Silverlight but I think this kind of animation has been around for a while in things like CD-ROMs, remember them?

It's certainly been in use on http://www.20thingsilearned.com/ since long before the patent was applied for so one slap for the submitters and one slap for the USPTO for approval of something for which prior art was a few mouse clicks away.

Apple should be fined % of turnover for this kind of abuse of the patent system.

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Ah, but did they just append the magic words "on a mobile device" like usual?

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JB
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Turnover...geddit? Oh well!

Seriously, totally agree with you. and those CD-ROMs were rubbish even back in the day. Remember one from 1994 and we remarked that it was too ambitious for the technology at the time.

As you were!

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I'm having trouble remembering how many hundreds of point and click adventure games in the late 80s-early 90s also had page animations.

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Sly
FAIL

think of the children!

mobile device... oh... that gameboy (enter favorite portable video game player) back in the day had games that mimicked this as well.

total rubbish.

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Angel

Re: think of the children!

While I think this patent is ridiculous - on the prior art front only - apple did have this a while ago ... the adventure games mentioned would they be myst by any chance? Myst was developed in hypercard...

Which was around in 1987 - though not sure if this relates or is a reason they were awarded this patent...

I still think it's ridiculous though...

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Anonymous Coward

Portable device

Like a laptop? With a DVD or Web page loaded up, serving the same animation. F**K I HATE APPLE, FOR THE INSANITY OF THIS SHIT!

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You know, of all the other times we've seen this, it was those 80's games that was my first thoughts too. Fairy Tale Adventure;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5_4DhXWdwo&feature=related

18 seconds into the vid. 1986

If this was running on a handheld device, it'd be prior art? Or just mind numbingly bleeding obvious.

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Erm...

Haven't I seen this many times before? In every "once upon a time" Disney sequence, for example?

Just thump "animated page turn" into Google and find several million examples of prior art.

Very strange.

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Re: Erm...

http://www.20thingsilearned.com/en-GB/home

Computer Games help docs, web catalogues, many many prior examples, proving it's an obvious

visual route to take in emulating real paperwork.

They shouldn't have been allowed to patent, as it's obvious/done.

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Alert

Re: Erm...

"Haven't I seen this many times before? In every "once upon a time" Disney sequence, for example?"

Disney v Apple?

I'm going to need a lot more popcorn.

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Joke

This is Apple innovation at it's best!

It's groundbreaking! It's beautiful! It's so creative!!

How can the competition ever think of catching up this?

Will it be the signature feature of the new New new iPad? Can I preorder or queue now?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is Apple innovation at it's best!

Huge news everyone, Apple is suing the Romans for stealing their innovative page turning idea. But because the romans don't actually exist any more, they're suing the descendants, if you have Roman blood you're expected to be in a california court in march 2013. If fewer than 50% of the population with roman blood turn up, Apple will be calling for the case to be immediately awarded in their favour, and that those with roman blood have to pay them a combined total of $1 for every book ever sold.

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Go

Re: This is Apple innovation at its best!

Microsoft can be one step ahead this time *and* use the peeling Surface covers to their advantage: animated page turns initiated when you touch the appropriate (loose) cover corner, like you would a page in a real book.

But they have to be quick and patent it before Apple reads this.

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Facepalm

Well on the Android ebook platform..... those pages that you turn - have text on them - and the figures shown in the patent do not.... presumably that counts as different enough to the original patent?

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Go

Perhaps...

Apple are taking the piss, and laughing their chuds off every time one of these gets granted and the anti-Apple brigade start foaming at the mouth.

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Prior Art

The pages of the online version of the Maplin catalogue turned like this once upon a time...

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Collapse apparent.

At some point, these type of patents granted ever day to some company or another will invalidate the whole system. There will come a time someone puts the who system to a test, and the system will not past that test.

The patent system is now legacy. The patent concept lives on without a tangible host.

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Anonymous Coward

I've seen this in video games. Besides I like Flipboard's idea much better.

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Lotus Organizer, 1995...

I may be mistaken, but, I believe that Lotus Organizer amd several PDA and planner softeare apps of the nineties and after sported this. IIRC, Lotus and another were at odds over the curled page corner. How in the BLOODY HELL can the uspto NOT have a record or anecdote about it? I will fire up Organizer in the morning to reminisce and find out how bad my memory is.

Is there an equivalent of lynching for corporations that run amok? There HAS to be peior are filed and in use going back to before 2000.

It is time to start fining filing companies $20,000 if small, and $20,000,000 if wealthy, foe each bad or falsified filing, and fine the CEO, too. Then, fine the uspto reviewer when prior art turns up. Imprison him or her if the found prior art is EASILY found by the public, but "missed" (euphemism in play here) by the uspto drone.

This shit is GETTING OUT OF HAND!

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Re: Lotus Organizer, 1995...

Yes, first time I saw it. It even made the 'rustling' sound as I remember. I thought it was 'cool' at the time.

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Stop

Re: Lotus Organizer, 1995...

Still got Organiser on my PC (stlll holds the master address list used annually for Christmas cards!) and it does have an option for animating page turns .... only problem is over the past few years PCs have got so much faster that the animation seem to run in "the blink of an eye" ... I can just about see a vertical line at times where the page would be mid-turn ... but that said, seems pretty clear prior art ... unless Apple have added the magic words "on a mobile device" to turn something old in a brand new never before done idea

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Re: Lotus Organizer, 1995...

You appear to be absolutely correct! I just fired up Organizer, and the pages indeed move so fast that the page-flip animation is almost imperceptible. I clicked every last tab, from Calendar down to Anniversary, and those clickablemones on pages themselves. Disappointing, hahaha. I rather miss that feature.

Also, as to a prior comment about games having this feature, one or more of the combat flight simulators i played had the feature. I cannot recall which, but, i played F-14 Tomcat, Falcon 4.0, Longbow Apache, and a few more.

Btw, as an aside, i see a button for Paragon FoneSync, and only an hour ago when trying to refine my search for prior art, i ran across lawsuits info, on how Lotus was forced to cancel a plan to sell business and home demographics CDs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Marketplace

Amazing how google turns up stuff irrelevant to my search, but still interesting nonetheless. I wish that prior art stuff came up this easily, so i would not get the feeling that companies can pay search engines to suppress ad hoc queries to figt against large companies when it is the right course of action.

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Does apple actually have a department working inside the US patent office? They seem to be getting every stupid patent they ask for....no matter how dumb, obvious or how many examples of prior art exist.

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Coat

Can't possibly be Apple

Those corners aren't rounded.

(The one with the Samsung in the pocket please)

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FAIL

mega fail

errr. haven´t online (digital) versions of newspapers been doing this for years? I think it uses a piece of software from pagesuite.com to do it. I know of one local paper in Herts thats been using it for over 8 years.

Come on Apple try to enforce this one ......... haha

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Flame

Something good from the patent system

Prior art? Inventive step? Who cares, if Apple can actually enforce this they will have done the world a favour in making punishable what rightfully should be so. Making an application to make my perfectly good computer imitate an outdated and inferior technical solution for displaying text is simply not cool.

/Off to paint wooden spokes on the wheels of my car.

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WTF?

So looking at the patent link, before the description is a list or links to other patents - I presume these are ones that are similar? There is also links to various sites (http://oreilly.com/javascript/archive/flashhacks.html , http://flippingbook.com/#demonstrations etc), all of which show the prior art .... so ... if they have found there is prior art, why have they granted it?

Or have I completely missed something here?!

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It's not an invention patent, it's a "design patent".

If I've got this straight, which you shouldn't count on, this is more like legal protection for an identifiable trademark or distinctive look-and-feel of their product. It means, or is meant to mean, that competitors are discouraged from making a similar product that looks too much like Apple's in this respect. So, it doesn't matter how often or how long it's been done before, if Apple has exclusivity on it now.

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Facepalm

It Dosen't take an Einstein.....

It dosen't take an Einstein to conclude that this supposed invention is neither novel or non-obvious; perhaps it's time for the USPTO to thumb through it's mass of patents (possibly the first time they've bothered to read them) and see if there is anything on it's books that covers the cloning a certain Austrian Patent clerk. If they do I's suggest they contact the filler immediately and ask for a few hundred clones, it will save much litigation :)

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Anonymous Coward

This depends on how rigid the patent is... if they are very specific on the angle and effect, I can see how this could be a 'design' patent, the page turns in a very specific way, at a very specific angle etc...

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Yeh but

It doesn't.

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Coat

So I can lodge 360 patents to cover all angles?

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MrT
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Only if...

... you're using degrees. File a good few hundred more for turn angles in radians and gradians... :-/

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