Apple was recently granted a design patent for the the animation in iBooks. Specifically, their patent covers the way the page appears to turn as you swipe with your finger. The protected work includes the normal page turn animation, the rapid page turn animation, and the corner bend animation that reveals a bit of the next page. What is truly curious about this patent being granted is the volume of prior examples of this animation that exist.While we can sit and argue all day long on exactly how broken our patent system is, or how a given company appears to be manipulating the system, but at the end of the day it’s what we have and what companies must use. While accepting that, we can all at least take the time to acknowledge a few older examples of animated page turning.WebsitesLong before anyone was talking about iOS, the page turn animation was all the rage on the internet. Websites eager to take advantage of rich graphics and advanced user interfaces were implementing all kinds of animations on their websites. Chief among them was the page turn. Everything from small chunks of text to entire websites were wrapped up in embellishments that made them look like books. In some cases you could just click a corner and have the animation occur, but in many others you had to click the corner of the page and drag the page to the other side of the screen.Some quick searching will also reveal a handful of Actionscript and Flash-based solutions for enabling this very feature, many of which posses a published date years before iOS was unveiled.Now, the core counter argument here is that Apple’s patent specifies the use of a finger to generate these action. Unfortunately for Apple, touch screens have been around for a long time, so previously that meant placing a cursor and using your finger as though it were the mouse. The end result is the same — your finger is being used to activate a page turn by swiping across the screen.PC games and programsAny video game that has been released in the last 20 years and features a book will more than likely have an animated page turn. Looking back at the Myst game series, which used special linking books to travel back and forth across worlds, there was certainly a page animation involved. The original Myst game was released in 2003 and allowed for touch input on supported hardware. In fact, there’s even a version of Myst available for iOS that includes this same animation.Another title to look at would be Master of Magic, which was released in 1994. The spellbook used in this game also featured a page animation very similar to Apple’s newly patented animation.Since those are video games, and the core function was not to turn a page, maybe that doesn’t count. Microsoft Encarta, however, was originally released in 1993 as a digital encyclopedia. You can find the page turning animation all over the various versions of Encarta, which stopped being released in 2009. This animation lacked the corner bend function, in which you can peer at the content on the next page by pulling the page down with your finger instead of swiping across.AppsBefore the release of iBooks in January 2010, there were several e-reader apps for various platforms including the iPhone. Most of them included some form of page turning animation, but very few of them followed your finger or included a separate animation for rapidly turning the page. One app in particular, however, had animations that were so great Apple included them in one of their iPhone 3GS commercials. The Classics app for iOS featured a page turning animation that was produced by swiping your finger across a screen, and Apple themselves promoted it months before iBooks was even announced.Another example would be Give Me Something To Read, which we know now on iOS as Instapaper. This service was originally designed for the web in 2008, and has featured some version of the page animation across the web, Kindle, iOS, and Android products ever since. The whole purpose of the app was to make reading on electronic media feel more organic. Instapaper is now a massive web and mobile platform for reading everything from books to blogs, and their page turn animation exists across all of their platforms.Since this is a design patent, the only way Apple would be able to pursue any kind of legal action would be if another company mimicked the exact animations that Apple is using in iBooks. To date, I have never seen another company use the page bend animation to reveal content on the next page. It would appear that, so long as no one goes and decides to mimic Apple’s newly patented animations, we won’t be seeing anyone in court anytime soon over this.