Apple iBooks Could Face Microsoft Patent Challenge

Illustration for article titled Apple iBooks Could Face Microsoft Patent Challenge

When Microsoft killed Courier dead, they promised that "it will be evaluated for use in future offerings." One of those innovations appears to have been the iBooks-like "virtual page turn," which Microsoft applied to patent in January of 2009.


Of course, "innovation" is here used loosely, since there are other very similar technologies out there. Still, the Microsoft patent does seem terribly specific:

"One or more pages are displayed on a touch display. A page-turning gesture directed to a displayed page is recognized. Responsive to such recognition, a virtual page turn is displayed on the touch display. The virtual page turn actively follows the page-turning gesture. The virtual page turn curls a lifted portion of the page to progressively reveal a back side of the page while progressively revealing a front side of a subsequent page. A lifted portion of the page is given an increased transparency that allows the back side of the page to be viewed through the front side of the page. A page-flipping gesture quickly flips two or more pages."

Which is pretty much the iBooks experience. Of course, Microsoft hasn't been awarded this patent yet. But if they are (and who doesn't love conjecture?), the could carve themselves a pretty nice slice of the iBooks pie. [USPTO via GoRumors]


Virtual page turn was first demonstrated back in the mid-1970s at MIT as part of the SDMS project. They used an eight bit graphics color map to make a smooth page turn transition from one page to the next or previous. They had a single point touch pad and a data tablet for graphical input, but I'm not sure which was being used. Of course, back then as now, they had a device independent graphics input system.

I think it usually takes about 20 years for an innovation to move from obvious to novel which is why things tend to get patented so many years after they are invented.