Print 62 comment(s) - last by Cheesew1z69.. on Nov 23 at 8:21 PM

Google filed a nearly identical patent claim nearly sixth months earlier, but Apple wins the patent anyways

In a move that could strike a deep blow to successful e-reader rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS), Apple, Inc. (AAPL) last week secured a patent on animating book pages turning digitally.

U.S. Patent D670,713, granted to Apple by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last Tuesday, depicts "the ornamental design for a display screen or portion thereof with animated-graphical user interface.

The description section of the patent is rather ambiguous.  So the easiest way of depicting what the patent covers it to simply show the figure:

Apple Page Turn
[Image Source: USPTO]

Google Inc. (GOOG) is surely a little irked as it filed a highly similar patent request half a year earlier in May 2011 (Apple's patent was filed in Dec. 2011).  US 2012/0105464 A1 depicts "Animated Page Turning", albeit describing it in much more detailed and specific language than Apple's filing.  To add insult to injury, Apple's patent does not cite Google's prior art.

Ultimately, the ambiguous language of the later Apple patent may work to its advantage, as it may be able to justify filing more lawsuits to stifle its competitors.  

Apple's wins in court when suing its competitors have thus far come largely from its local Californian district court.  In its $1.05B USD victory over Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), the jury found Apple innocent of all alleged infringements, but found Samsung guilty of most of the infringements Apple alleged.  Coincidentally the family members of some jurors were Apple shareholders, but Judge Lucy Koh ruled this was an acceptable level of bias.

The Nook HD features page turn animations:

Should Apple choose to sue B&N, it will likely look to repeat its successful strategy employed against Samsung: trying the case in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California's San Francisco courtroom.

(Note:, Inc.'s (AMZN) Kindle Fire/Fire HD don't have page turn animations, so they should be safe from lawsuits/bans.)

Source: USPTO

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By StevoLincolnite on 11/19/2012 11:17:17 AM , Rating: 5
This is a load of crap.

Go to a major shopping chain store's website and view their online catalog, it is laid out just like a book and you turn the pages with your mouse/keyboard/touch screen.

HOW was this even passed!? Is the Patent office full of monkeys high on crack!? Common sense peoples!

By geddarkstorm on 11/19/2012 11:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
Or what about the Nook, which has had this -exact animation- and interface behavior since 2010?

By JasonMick on 11/19/2012 11:31:02 AM , Rating: 5
Or what about the Nook, which has had this -exact animation- and interface behavior since 2010?
Just wait, when Apple sues B&N for patent infringement, Apple's legion of fans like Tony Swash will come up with some sort of warped justification of how Apple R&D had been working on this in their labs for years and just never showed anyone. ;)

But I agree, the decision is nutzo. Basically the USPTO is completely broken and things are going to get worse and worse until the lawsuits get so out of control that they're crippling the economy and the whole bloated mess burns to the ground.

It's going to be very bad for the economy until that happens, though.

I don't always agree with Mark Cuban, but his comments on patent trolling and how it's killing the tech industry are dead on.

By bug77 on 11/19/12, Rating: -1
By JasonMick on 11/19/2012 11:58:56 AM , Rating: 4
Does it feel like lawsuits are helping in any way atm?
Like, if this particular patent was rejected, suddenly billions of dollars would be turned away from ebook reader industry, thousands of jobs would be lost and so on?
There are certainly folks who would argue that patents are vital to the economy... but as the "This American Life" special "When Patents Attack!" illustrated, most of these supposed examples are fictional; it's impossible to prove a negative, but the lack of evidence would certainly support that the idea of the "small inventor" is largely a myth, particularly when it comes to software patents.

Granted, this problem has been brewing for a while. Folks like Colt and Edison milked the patent system to establish empires and kill rivals/competition. The issue is that in those cases the patents seemed rather legitimate, the issue was more that the true inventors were often not given patents, versus the savvy manipulators.

Today both the situation has shifted slightly, in that not only the grant process is biased, the patents themselves have lost all guise of credibility.

By cyberguyz on 11/19/2012 12:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
Careful folks.

Apple may have patented that Peanut Butter and Jam sandwich you just made. They'll sue!!

Seriously, I am all for protecting your inventions, but this has been around (page curl and all) since long before Apple applied for the patent.

Thing is that patents are expensive to register. However if you have the money to throw around you can patent anything as long as nobody challenges it .

Now if the person that actually invented this can come forward and prove they had the idea first (i.e. an application that shows this working that dates to before Apple's claimed first application) then Apple ends up losing the patent AND the real inventor can in turn sue the pants off of Apple for those billions they made from it.

By Shadowself on 11/19/2012 3:02:21 PM , Rating: 3
Now if the person that actually invented this can come forward and prove they had the idea first (i.e. an application that shows this working that dates to before Apple's claimed first application) then Apple ends up losing the patent AND the real inventor can in turn sue the pants off of Apple for those billions they made from it.
Ah, when the U.S. concedes to the rest of the world and changes from a "First to invent" system to a "First to file" system (if we haven't already done so -- I forget when the switch happens as I haven't filed or been issued any patents in the past four years) this argument will be irrelevant to. In much of the world for the past many years it does not matter who the original inventor was/is (first to invent). It matters who filed for the patent (first to file).

Under the first to file system it gets really "interesting". If you invent something but don't file for any protection then someone else tweaks it slightly (does not have to be extensive or even truly novel) and then files for a patent on your innovation, it is possible for the USPTO to issue that patent to that other entity.

You think the system is broken now? Just wait. As Jason said, it's going to get worse before it gets better (paraphrasing).

By gamilonman on 11/20/2012 3:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure 'The 7th Guest" had animated digital page turns in 1993.

By Samus on 11/19/2012 1:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
Quick, patent masturbation to e-books before Apple does!

By Cheesew1z69 on 11/23/2012 8:21:50 PM , Rating: 2
I am sure Tony Swash has a patent on masturbating to Apple, he may sue you if you aren't careful.

By hugo_stiglitz on 11/19/2012 11:48:01 AM , Rating: 5
One has to wonder... is Apple paying off the people who work at the patent office? My guess is: Probably.

By JasonMick on 11/19/2012 12:01:55 PM , Rating: 5
One has to wonder... is Apple paying off the people who work at the patent office? My guess is: Probably.

Apple has one of the largest legal budgets/legal teams in the industry. If you're a grant reviewer at the USPTO, and you allow this kind of stuff to trickle through, chances are good that you may be in line for a lucrative position in Apple's IP law dept. a few years down the road.

The same sort of thing happens frequently with FDA drug reviews and big pharma. It's good old bureaucratic quid pro quo, and it's ultimately almost impossible to track.

That's what you get though when you granted government sweeping powers to manipulate the market and make decisions for consumers.

By Samus on 11/19/2012 1:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Sweeping governmental powers or not, there's no solution to corruption. I'd say the government has potentially less corruption than if a bunch of corporations ran the country, because at least the government doesn't care about making a profit (clearly...)

When money gets in the way of things, corruption runs rampant.

By perspicacity on 11/19/2012 3:19:53 PM , Rating: 3
I trust government less than a corporation because at least I understand the corporation's motivation. A government's motivation is often the manipulation and subjugation of it's people.

Profit is honest -- don't confuse greed with profit.

By Shadowself on 11/19/2012 3:18:46 PM , Rating: 3
Extremely unlikely.

Have you talked to any patent examiner? They are so overloaded the easiest way for them to clear their backlog is to issue the patent. If they reject the patent the better heeled applicants just have their patent attorneys tweak it slightly, refile, then go in for a face-to-face with the examiner and talk to him until he gives in.

The system is broken. Systems and Methods patents (in full disclosure I have a few of those) should be largely forbidden a priori. Systems and Methods patents should have to show novelty in the extreme!

Also, while I'm not a fan of growing government, the USPTO needs to double the number of examiners it has with the absolute direction that patents will be denied unless the examiner has the reaction of, "Wow, I've never heard of *anything* like that before!"

Finally, I'd add this bit to future patent law: The prior art searches must be enforceable. Right now 99% of the prior art search is done by the patent applicant. Make it illegal (with stiff fines) for applicants to knowingly submit partial prior art lists.

Right now the general rule with prior art submissions is, for all practical purposes, under the "grandmother rule", i.e., if your grandmother (well actually in my case it would be my mother who's about 90) can easily find it then you must report it. If your grandmother can't find it without a long, exhaustive search, then you don't have to report it.

Also right now patent examiners only do a cursory search to see if anything pops up in the public record -- nothing more.

Make applicants do an exhaustive search before filing and list all the prior art they find.

By Nyu on 11/19/2012 2:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
bribing everyone obviously.

By GotThumbs on 11/19/2012 4:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
Most definitely!!!!!

No doubt about it.

By masamasa on 11/19/2012 2:33:02 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, they regularly deliver bananas to all the monkeys that work there.

By marvdmartian on 11/19/2012 2:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
For that matter, plenty of online advertisements use a similar graphic. While not controlled by a finger movement (currently), there's no reason to believe they couldn't be, on a touch screen tablet.

Typical Apple....."inventing" that which has already been invented!

By GotThumbs on 11/19/2012 4:35:35 PM , Rating: 3
This simple fact that Apple got this granted....Proves the US Patent office is corrupt and staffed with idiots.

There is not other logical explanation.

I think its time to file suit on the Patent office for failing to do proper research and due diligence.

Just take them out and shoot them. Pure Idiots feeding the problem.

By spaced_ on 11/19/2012 10:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
Think about it a bit more.

There are likely 100,000's of patent applications every year.

How many full time staff does it take to review and scrutinise each one?

I wouldn't blame the staff, or necessarily even the office. There's a bigger problem with the system itself. And the problem is getting bigger with the number of patent applications increasing.

And what is the whole underlying point of the patent system? And is it achieving it's goal? Obviously not in the tech industry, which moves far too rapidly for the current patenting system to keep up.

It's a difficult problem to solve, how to protect inventors and innovators, encourage investment, but how to also prevent abuse of the system that encourages stifling innovation, monopolisation and market manipulation. Perhaps there should be different rules that the gorilla corporations have to play by, compared to startups. In the end consumers and startups alike are currently being screwed by the gorilla corporations and their legions of patent lawyers. And the gorillas screw each other too in the quest of being king gorilla.

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