Apple have just been granted patent D670,713 "Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface"

A New York Times blog post discusses possible prior art references. How relevant are they? Might they invalidate the patent?

  • 1
    What counts as prior art for a design patent? Something that looked similar? – Charles Stewart Nov 17 '12 at 9:19
  • 1
    +1 for Charles' comment. This is a design patent and not a utility patent. The New York Times blog post is wrong to infer that it gives Apple ownership over the algorithm or all kinds of page turn animation. Refer to uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/s1502.html .. quote: "In general terms, a “utility patent” protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a “design patent” protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171)." ... The media overreacted to this. – Chris W. Rea Nov 19 '12 at 22:53

In my opinion patent US20120105464, filed by Google on May 31, 2011 , shows the exact same image (see Figure 5). The only difference is that the cylinder in Apple's case has a radius of 0, so there would be no curve to the page turn. The other difference is that Google actually describes how the invention works, while Apple simply shows what it looks like. Google's patent wasn't cited by Apple.

On the other hand patent US7171630 was cited in Apple's reference list. It shows some images that are pretty similar to Apple's design, except the page curves a little bit as it is turned, rather than being flat.

  • Patent [US20110090258][3] also shows the exact same thing simply using a 0 degree vertical angle. Apple on the other hand seems to be showing that they are using a certain degree angle, And then, of course, there's [US20100122168][4], which in Figure 4 shows an image which is pretty similar to Apple's design. The funny thing on this one is the caption: "PRIOR ART". [3]: google.com/patents/US20110090258 [4]: google.com/patents/US20100122168 – Tom Anderson Nov 17 '12 at 10:21
  • And what about the 1989 [US5053762][5]? Are Apple's three images to suggest that they uniquely declare that the amount of warp used by Apple is 0 percent in depicting page turns? [5]: google.com/patents/US5053762 – Tom Anderson Nov 17 '12 at 10:22
  • Patent [US20110090258][6] also shows the exact same thing simply using a 0 degree vertical angle. Apple on the other hand seems to be showing that they are using a certain degree angle. Absurdly, the Apple engineers depict a different angle on each of the three images, so their design patent protects what exactly? Obviously Apple doesn't use this sequence described since a flip-book style sequence of only three angled pages would not look fluidly animated in the least. [6]:[www.google.com/patents/US20110090258] – Tom Anderson Nov 17 '12 at 10:22

I'm not sure if this counts but it's from 2001


  • Could you write a paragraph or so to explain the relevance? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 18 '12 at 13:55
  • To be fair, this movie shows page turning in the style of the Google patent US20120105464, filed by Google on May 31, 2011. That type of turning is based on a cylindrical shape, whereas Apple is using a cylinder of 0 radius, making the page turn seem very angular and folded. As far as I can tell, Apple are patenting only the design of this sharp, angular page turning, but in my opinion it's obvious and invalidated by prior art. But the example provided does not clearly show the exact same thing due to the cylindrical nature (although it should invalidate Google's patent). – Tom Anderson Nov 21 '12 at 3:12
  • Most graphic designers seem to prefer a rounded/shaded look to the page turn. However, the first 100 images on google image search we can see this Flash product that uses the straight look: flashbookmaker.com/blog/add-a-SWF-file-to-make-your-flash-flip-book-an-animated-effect.html Also, the demos on activeden.net/item/power-book/243178 show that when the cylinders have very small radii, the page design looks remarkably similar to Apple's patent. – Tom Anderson Nov 21 '12 at 3:24

Even on the iPhone/iPad platform, this is not innovative. Here's the first page turning app seen on iOS that came out in 2007! One of its developers ended up being hired by Apple. The design patent is very narrow so developers need not worry and there are still a lot of ways to implement this. Unfortunately, this doesn't invalidate the patent.


If I'm not mistaken, and I might be. They usually don't approve patents for minor changes to existing technology. It would have to be truly revolutionary. The page turn has been around for a very long time, it was used in video games of the 80's. What is special about Apple's?

  • 1
    "Revolutionary" is not a criteria for patentability. No flash of brilliance needed. Useful, novel and not obvious make up the criteria. – George White Jan 24 '13 at 4:16
  • Furthermore, this is a design patent. – Adrian Heine Jul 26 '13 at 12:50

Page turning was one of the 3d effects that I used in Pinnacle Studio video editing software circa 1999-2001. The effect was identifical to iBooks, so I was surprised to see this patent; I thought it was lifted.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.