Samsung: tablet-like device in movie invalidates patent

Samsung says Kubrick owns tablet design, not Apple

Here's an interesting defense in the Samsung-Apple patent battle: Samsung claims iPad-like tablets have already been established as "prior art," thanks to a scene in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

If you're not up-to-date on the patent battle, here's what's going on: Apple claims that Samsung's Galaxy line of phones and tablets infringes on Apple's intellectual property. Among other things, Apple says the Galaxy line's "trade dress" or visual appearance is too similar. Well, Samsung disagrees--and they're pointing to 2001: A Space Odyssey as justification.

In one of the Space Odyssey scenes, two astronauts are eating together. Each has a thin, tablet-like display next to his meal tray. Because the film was released in 1968--long before Apple designed the iPad--Samsung argues that Space Odyssey establishes iPad-like tablets as "prior art," thereby invalidating one of Apple's patents.

"As with the design claimed by the D'889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table's surface), and a thin form factor," Samsung's legal team writes.

This curious legal argument was noticed by Florian Mueller, who writes about technology at the FOSS Patents blog.

"It would be amazing if the court agreed with Samsung that this constitutes prior art for that particular iPad-related design patent," Mueller writes.

I'm not a patent lawyer, so I'm not sure whether it's possible to cite science fiction as "prior art" in an intellectual property lawsuit. Either way, I see one other flaw in Samsung's argument: At no point in the film clip do either of the astronauts interact with their displays. The so-called tablets act only as portable video monitors, not touch-screen computers.

But this is just one exhibit among many that Samsung filed as part of its defense, so I doubt it'll have much bearing on the U.S. District Court's decision. Let's just take it for what it is: a bizarre nod to geekiness in what is otherwise a very serious matter for Samsung and Apple.

Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter for even more tech news and commentary.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags tablet PCApplesamsungSamsung Electronicshardware systemstablets

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?