Apple Gets Design Patent On… Page Turning

from the turn-the-page-on-the-patent-system dept

Nick Bilton, over at the NY Times has highlighted how Apple has been granted a design patent on the electronic representation of turning a page. Bilton leaves out that this is a design patent, which is much more limited. It’s more akin to a trademark than a traditional patent — but… still… The patent in question, D670,713 really does seem to cover exactly what it says in the title: “Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface.”

The patent comes with three illustrations to explain how the page-turn algorithm works. In Figure 1, the corner of a page can be seen folding over. In Figure 2, the page is turned a little more. I’ll let you guess what Figure 3 shows.

While design patents are a slightly different than other patents, it really is patents like this that get the public to respect the patent system less and less.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Apple Gets Design Patent On… Page Turning”

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Wally (profile) says:

Not so sure...

Thing is though, Apple does a lot of work studying ergonomics and a lot of effort goes into simulating the effect of turning a page manually. There’s a certain amount of uniqe physics equations to program into this. Im sure somone can get around the patent by using a difderent formula and set of code. I’ve seen how a kindle does it and it just doesn’t look right. Honestly, from what I’ve sampled, iBooks looks, and inspite of sliding the screen, feels more natural.

This patent can be circumvented simply by using a different code to simulate the same cinditions and instances of the animation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not so sure...

Yeah, except that Apple could (and did) argue that rounded corners were ‘novel’ and ‘nonobvious’; both of these are requirements for design patents, as well as for utility patents. I’m not sure they can argue that a skeuomorphism is either of these things.

With patents (including design patents) now being first-to-file, I’m not sure that prior art can be used as a defense directly. Hopefully, someone can argue that dozens of other people inventing it first is a major sign of non-novelty.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not so sure...

You missed the other AC’s point.

The exact implementation Apple decide to use will be covered by copyright, that is no-one can write the same characters in the same sequence without infringing. This is how it should be with code.

To allow them to own the idea of turning a page (on a tablet/smartphone/the Internet)is absurd, prior art exists, it’s pretty obvious and it’s not novel. It only serves as a patent they can use to litigate against their competitors.

Grady (profile) says:

Re: Not so sure...

Normally, I’d say I might agree with you.

The thing is, is Google Play using a simulating page turn. I’ve been using it the past say, two months. (I’d have been using it longer, but I was previously using Aldiko, which, by-the-way, also has an animation).

In fact, a quick Google search results in an article (linked below) from July 2007 about page-turning effects.

Apple, once again, has patented something that has already been done, and will probably sue someone for it…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not so sure...

… so what you’re claiming is that this should be covered by copyright, not a patent… what you describe “can be circumvented simply by using a different code” is copyright.

This is a Design Patent… a look and feel thing, if you make something yourself that looks the same you could potentially get sued, more importantly what you describe “Apple does a lot of work studying ergonomics and a lot of effort goes into simulating the effect of turning a page manually” is the worst kind of patent: the “Just like that… but on [insert technology here, eg ‘a Tablet’]”.

This is the sort of Patent that should never be allowed, entirely software (and therefore code covered by coyright), emulating something that already exists. There is nothing new here, it is just another useless patent Apple will hope to use to prevent competition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not so sure...

Shh. Wally defends Apple vehemently. Your logic is not going to displace his notion that Apple is in the right in being granted this patent. After all, all any other companies need to do is show they can do the same thing using different code and do so in court when sued by Apple. Am I right, Wally?

anon says:

Prior Art

Unbelievable that they actually have the ordacity to do this. If this is not a perfect example of prior art I do not know what is, whoever approved this patent or whatever you want to call it needs some training oh how to do there job, and hopefully the first time Apple tries to sue using this either in negotiations or in a court, they need to pay compensation to those they are suing for a waste of there time and the wasting of the patent offices time and the wasting of paper and computer code to store it anywhere.
Let them be banned from submitting any patents for 5 years or even longer until they learn that stupidity is not an excuse and they must learn what is honest and what is blatant disregard for others actually innovating.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I hope you’ll actually take a moment to play with this little Flash video. You will have to flip past the simulated hard cover, but I encourage you to soldier on!

It comes from all the way back in 2005 (though there are many before it). It shows the EXACT method of page turn calculations that Apple is describing. Not something similar, not a pre-recorded visual trick, exactly the same. The fairly basic trigonometry of simulating a page turn by bisecting a triangle and drawing a shader over half of it should not be protected, and if Apple tries to assert this patent anywhere, you can bet I’ll be sending this tutorial along with the full source code over to the defending legal team.

Anonymous Coward says:

Simulated page turning is one of the stupidest ideas ever

Why would I want to turn pages on something that doesn’t have fucking pages?

This kind of stupid force-fitting UI idioms from the real world to electronics, where it makes absolutely no sense, does nothing but piss me off.

Books are not good UI, they are simply a solution to a problem, using the materials and technology available at their time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Simulated page turning is one of the stupidest ideas ever

Nah, Wally’s got a point. I’ve certainly seen nice implementations of this. It’s a much more technical setup to let you grab corner of the “page” and drag it in virtually any angle, and the page bends appropriately. You’re right though, we certainly don’t need “pages” or animations–they are entirely useless window-dressing, BUT I’m sad to say I know people who are wowed by that, and would probably lean toward a purchasing a product that turns pages that way, everything else being equal.

Now I’m gonna go wash up–I feel dirty defending Apple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Simulated page turning is one of the stupidest ideas ever

It doesn’t really matter since design patents are just for the look and feel not the utilitarian aspect of anything.

If it looks like it than it can be considered to be substantially similar.

This patent should have never ever been awarded it doesn’t matter how the code underneath is or how it operates, design patents don’t protect utility, it protects appearance.

Anything that has a page turning now is infringing Apple’s patent, that is ridiculous.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Simulated page turning is one of the stupidest ideas ever

“It doesn’t really matter since design patents are just for the look and feel not the utilitarian aspect of anything.”

Yet you forget that said look and feel has to be programmed uniquely, and that when you patent a code or product, you must have a diagram showing what it does or is programmed to do…in other words, a schematic is required to be on file with the patent.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Simulated page turning is one of the stupidest ideas ever

“Anything that has a page turning now is infringing Apple’s patent, that is ridiculous.”

All they have to do in court is rebuttal that the code they used was different. Samsung should have done this, but I’m sure other companies will be smarter than that.

lolzzzzz says:


i can’t help but laugh at how sad the usa is …no really you call this innovative?
YOU call this original thought that someone really had to sit and think hard at?

Not that there isnt tons a prior art to boot, but this is exactly why in the copyright post about republicans i said your nation is just screwed….its why apple is doomed cause this is all they can come up with cause someone had not actually filed this as a patent when prior examples already existed is the sorry state of your nation.

YOUR BROKE and your looking real swift USA…..

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Cunning plan

Xerox PARC was different. The GUI didn’t limit the mouse cursor to the side of the screen. Steve Jobs created the code that put in the perimeter of limitations on the mouse cursor, which is what Microsoft had copied.

That was at a time when very few people knew what goes into “Look and Feel” and Xerox took advantage of that.

That One Guy (profile) says:

A fun way to test if they are even reading the applications:

Submit the following ‘patent’:

One page of complete and utter meaningless management style gibberish, and then on the second page the fun comes up…

‘…and by signing off on this application the patent examiner hereby gives blanket permission for anyone at all to show up at their work and beat them with a foam swimming noodle until the stupid stops coming out…’

Follow that up with another page of meaningless gibberish, just to pad it out, wait for them to pass it off as an acceptable patent and then the fun begins.

Baxter says:

How about this patent on rectangles?

If you “liked” this page-turning patent, I can recommend a peek at their newly granted design patent for a “portable display device”, USD670286.

At first glance, it just looks like a patent for their iPad design. But read the last line of the description: “The broken lines in the Figures show portions of the portable display device which form no part of the claimed design.”

This means all the broken lines are irrelevant to the patented design. It is only the solid lines that are patented.

Now look again at the figures. Nearly all lines in them are broken. Only a single line is solid: The outline. The solid line, describing what the patent protects, forms a plain geometric rectangle with rounded corners. It is completely devoid of any iPad-specific design features, or any features at all.

It is, truly, a patent on rectangles with rounded corners.

Prior Artist says:

When I first heard of this elsewhere, before looking at this design patent at all, I had a guess: it would consist of pulling at the bottom-right corner of a page and dragging it to the left.

Surprise, surprise, that’s exactly what it shows. I can see exactly why they’d want to protect the hard work of their designers from being copied by people who can guess the exact form their “design” will take without having ever seen the patent or any design using it.

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