Here I go, turn the page.
On the NY Times Bits blog, Nick Bilton gleefully reports that the patent office has seen fit to award Apple a design patent on, of all things, the digital page turn used in iBooks. Bilton uses this as proof of the ridiculousness of the current patent system, as well as a reminder of the obnoxiousness of Apple’s recent patent litigation practices. But is this patent really as silly as it looks?
As some people point out in the comments under Bilton’s article, the patent is narrower than Bilton makes it seem—it doesn’t cover any page turns, just the particular one iBooks uses, with its specific animation and the bleedthrough of text from the back of the page. It doesn’t cover other forms of page-turning.
Of course, if the patent is as “obvious” as Bilton and some others think it is, there will be ample prior art to use to fight it if it ever comes up in court. (Such as Classics, whose entire interface iBooks basically copied.) So either way the patent may not be as bad as it seems. Regardless, page-turning animations are popular in e-book applications, so if Apple does plan to use this as a patent weapon, we may see it tested sooner than later.