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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Patent Law Fail
By DNAgent on 11/19/2012 11:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
To add insult to injury, Apple's patent does not cite Google's prior art.

First, we are not in a First-to-File system yet. Those provisions of the AIA do not kick in until late next year. The fact that Google filed first means nothing on its face.

Second, "prior art" encompasses written publications that are publicly available. Google's application filed six months prior to Apple's was not published and was in fact secret at the time Apple filed their application. Patent applications are published 18 months after filing.

The best (and seemingly quite valid) argument against this patent is that the invention was already in public use and available for purchase in the United States before invention by anyone at Apple.

RE: Patent Law Fail
By Cheesew1z69 on 11/19/2012 11:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
The "turn page" animation, has been around for thousands of years...

RE: Patent Law Fail
By DNAgent on 11/19/2012 12:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
No argument here. See the last part of my comment.

RE: Patent Law Fail
By Solandri on 11/19/2012 2:27:52 PM , Rating: 5
Here are two actual implementations of the page-turning animation which have been available online for a decade.

And here's a 16-year old IEEE conference paper which describes the same thing (it's behind a paywall, but the abstract describes it).

This patent doesn't stand a chance. It's just sad that millions of dollars are going to be wasted on lawyers to figure out what I just did in 5 minutes with Google.

RE: Patent Law Fail
By DNAgent on 11/19/2012 12:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
I was in no way arguing that prior art didn't exist...just that Google's patent application did not qualify as such.

RE: Patent Law Fail
By Theoz on 11/19/2012 1:41:50 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, you're wrong. I am usually the first person to point out Jason's numerous patent law failings, but he is at least right that Google's application appears to be prior art to Apple's. Whether under the "even the blind squirrel finds the occasional nut" principle or not, Google's application is indeed prior art to Apple's under 35 USC 102(e).

Under 102(e) an application that is filed before the filing of another application but publishes afterwards can still be prior art. Apple's design patent's earliest date of priority is May 5, 2011. Google's utility patent application claims priority from two applications filed prior: one on Oct 27, 2010 and a second on Feb. 28, 2011. Assuming one or both of these applications indeed disclose all limitations of Apple's design patent, then they would in fact be prior art to Apple's under 102(e).

RE: Patent Law Fail
By Theoz on 11/19/2012 1:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
I should clarify that I didn't look into the two Google priority applications (which may differ from what ended up in the published application. So although they would be prior art, they may not invalidate any of Apple's claims.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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