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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: Amazon.com, 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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RE: WTF
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.


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