Microsoft Page-Turning Patent Could Spell Trouble For Apple's iBooks

Apple, Amazon, and others have worked hard to simulate the experience of reading a book on a tablet computer, device or smartphone. Specifically, Apple’s iBooks iPad application has a page turning feature that replicates the curling of a page when you flip pages in a book. But Microsoft is claiming that it invented this feature in a patent application, according to a GoRumors report.

The patent application, which was filed in 2009, appears to have been filed with Microsoft’s Courier touch-based tablet in mind. But unfortunately, that project was tabled a few months ago. Essentially, Microsoft is trying to patent making a virtual page turn exactly like a real page.

Here’s an excerpt from the application:

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.

While Microsoft applied last year, it seems that the patent has not actually been awarded to the company yet. But the tablet is dead, so it’s unclear what the benefit would be to Microsoft at this point (besides maybe engaging in a bit of legal patent fun with Apple).

But the action that is being patented seems fairly obvious, which may prevent the patent from being awarded. After all, it is nothing more than an animation of a page being turned, an “invention” which goes back to the days of Guttenberg.