Samsung Uses Science Fiction Against Apple In Legal Defence

Apple is giving Samsung a legal pummelling because it thinks the latter stole the iPad's design for the Galaxy Tab. So far, the fight's going well for Apple. But Samsung has something up its sleeve: Apple ripped off science fiction.

Or so Samsung claims. Patent expert Florian Mueller noticed something odd in Samsung's American legal counteroffensive: they argue the idea for the iPad existed back in 1968, when Stanley Kubrick dreamed up his sci-fi classic. And in American patent law, if the idea existed before your patent application — what's known as prior art — your patent is null. So essentially, Samsung is pulling a hell of a legal manoeuvre here, alleging they couldn't possibly have stolen the iPad's design, because Apple took it from an imaginary science-fiction movie space station:

Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a still image taken from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey." In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. The clip can be downloaded online at . 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.

Mueller says it would be "amazing" if the court bought this. But Samsung does have a point, even if it's a futile one. The problem with Apple's radically minimal design is that it's hard to say there's terribly much singular about it. Unlike the design of, say, a Lamborghini, which is distinctive and iconic because of its detail, Apple's gorgeous industrial design is striking because of how invisible it is.

All tablets are pretty much just black glass rectangles. Most smartphones are pretty much just smaller black glass rectangles. Apple certainly made this design ubiquitous through the iPad and iPhone, respectively, but did they invent it? With a form so vague, it might be hard to prove that they did. And if the realm of science fiction becomes fair game, the fights of Samsung — and any other company Apple might square off against — could become easier. I'd never have guessed Space Age design and beautiful futurism could be a liability. [FOSS Patents via 9to5Mac]



    Honestly I hope they get away with this one. I can understand Patenting the hardware, the software and even an IP but a shape as nondescript as the iPad? They're just being silly and litigous in order to force someone else out of the market.

      Fully agreed.

      And doctoring images to do it!


      Patent law has gone the way of unions. What is fundamentally a sound idea for supporting fairness is now blatantly exploited to gain control of the market or political advantage.
      It's yet another sad example of the human masses spoiling the brilliant ideas of its individuals.

      And a compelling reminder of why i'm opposed to collectivist political theories (any brand of socialism).

      Collaboration of and competition between independents > one mashed together collective. Forever and always.

    I would have thought that an idea is an idea. I believe Apple's lawsuit is akin to suing everyone with a building because its tall and has windows, may be made of concrete and steel.

    You might also add that Rodney Mckay was using all those supposedly Apple proprietary actions on his pad in Stargate Atlantis long before any of their products were on th market.

    someone dropped their iPad on the tram today, and it smashed all over the floor.

    a bunch of us started laughing :)

      Wow, I hope someone punches you in the face today :-)

      Isn't that sad! A few months ago (not that I was ever a fan of Apple) I would have had nothing but sympathy for someone who broke a prized possession. Now though, i'd probably say, "You've probably done yourself a favour."

    knowing Apple, they'll probably attempt legal action against the estate of Stanley Kubrick for having the "rectangular pad" before they did.

    This just in: Pope sues Apple for use of trademark object in lifestyle patent.

    Samsung need to get an original design. Other companies are coming up with their own designs...End of discussion.

      Trolling trolling trolling,
      Keep movin', movin', movin',
      Though they're disapprovin',
      Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!

      obvious troll is obvious

        What he says is true though, look at the Grid tablet, and also, if Apple "ripped off" the design of the thing in the movie, haven't Samsung done the same thing then?

          I say who care's about who designed what outside of the tablet. I say it's what's on the inside that counts. Both are just as good as each other and I think they can both compete well side by side, but Apple are taking the cheap road trying to use a legal system against EVERYONE. If Apple claim Samsung copied, then Apple should shoot their own foot in the process. 30% of designs are looking at someone elses and trying to redo it, but better.

            the difference is samsung are not sueing anyone claiming they invented the design

          In the same sense that all car manufacturers are ripping off Samuel Ford. (I think it was actually a German who made the first automobile but everyone thinks it was the later American so i'm rolling with that)

          The point is, we'd have lost out on a lot of wonderful choices for what style of car we want to drive, despite them all being mere variations of essentially the same thing.

          Are you REALLY suggesting that Apple setting this kind of precedent is GOOD for us consumers?
          We should NOT have choices of what style of the same idea we'd prefer?

          I don't understand any person who celebrates choice and liberty supporting what Apple is doing. We have invariably all agreed that had their case been legitimate, as in more than "The look and feel of the iPad", it would be another matter entirely.
          As it stands, though, Apple are trying to maintain their hold on the market NOT through innovation and pleasing their customers but by legal action. Samsung's loss here is the consumers loss, regardless of which tablet you personally prefer.

    As a fruit grower I encourage my comrades to take to the streets to protest against the improper use of an 'Apple' in the logo of a company that neither sells nor markets fruit. I demand satisfaction.

    Apple steals shit all the time. They are a (fantastic) marketing and ideas execution company, but not such a good ideas generation company, much like microsoft. The ipod, their iconic product, was an idea licenced from a third party (portal player The mac "borrowed" heavily from xerox star. Objective C is not theirs. Apple hardly "invented" touch screen tablets, or "frameless" displays, or even gestural interfaces. The patent office frequently buggers up, because most patent clerks lack any real tech history expertese or grasp of the all important "prior art". Apple is the worlds best "DJ", but is no "singer songwriter".

    No one is disputing that Apple takes existing technologies and makes them better. If you were a DJ and you invented the best DJ equipment and then someone came along and created the same look and feel/userbility and took you out of business how would you feel? That is what Microsoft pretty much did to Apple decades ago because Apple did not patent their own operating system. Do you think Apple is going to let that happen again? There are other companies out there that just are out to make a buck out of other peoples success. They are not innovators, just leaches.

      obvious troll is obvious!

        bedtime reading :-) and to extract :
        "Suppose the display panel covers the full extent of the notebook surface. Any keyboard arrangement one might wish can then be displayed anywhere on the surface." - Alan kay, 1968 (yes 68, not 98, or 2008), the guy steve jobs steals ALL his shit from :-) (and I do mean all, read up).

        Alan kay and his team invented : mice, GUI (icons, pointers, pop-ups), touch screens, pads, virual keyboards, OO development, gestural interfaces and more. And actually implemented them on hardware that was pre-pc.

        Love and kisses, someone who actualy tries to understand shit :-)

    So does Apple not get any credit at all for actually having the ability to make this stuff happen and happen well?
    Also, you can just about find anything these days and say that it was thought of 40-100 years ago. If you read and listened to what I said, no is disputing that Apple is using previous technologies. They just make them happen in todays world. Apple are innovators not inventors. If it wasn't for Apple, we would still be in the dark ages because no one else has the vision to take something and innovate it. They just want to copy it. Competition is good for consumers but don't blatantly copy some elses shit. Maybe you understand "Shit" a little bit more now...

      I Love Mobi, so being the best DJ is fine by me :-)
      I am no apple hater - I have an iPad, iphone and 3 apple computers (as well as plenty of other non-apple stuff)
      Apple deserve commercial credit, and (like Mobi) they get that - its called a great share price,awesome profitability and a brand worth a bomb. But they are also trying to "moat" thier innovative packaging by pretending they invented it, which they did not. Steve jobs admits he steals stuff (check out the article) and, fair call, the people he steals from love him (read the article in my prev post), so no drama there, but he has also publically said he is protecting "apple innovation", which is horse shit, pure and simple. Apple's business model can be simply explained (and bless them for it) - implement other peoples best ideas in the simplest way possible as soon as the profit margins rock and it can be explained to average consumers. Respect for that, but NOT for having the shear audacity to say it's about protecting thier 'unique ideas'. Most of the ipad ideas have been in the public domain for decades (in fully realised form) waiting for the day the hardware was cheap enough, dodgy patents notwithstanding. They need to stick to thier knitting, and not get distracted by this defensive rubbish.
      They should just be honest - they are doing the patent shit because all the other IP trolls in town are up to the same nonsence, which we as voters should to demand gets fixed before innovation is turned into a lawyers pissing match.

        I encourage everyone to read the above well-reasoned comment.

    "Does Apple not get any credit?"
    And what's their share price at the moment?

    Just because they made the biggest splash with the iPhone and iPad doesn't mean that everyone else should be prevented from releasing something that's 90% touchscreen with one main button.

    prior art? what about their recent ac adapter patent. that was used before

    There appear to be a lot of fanboys commenting on this thread. Basically, you're arguing that Apple should have a monopoly on the tablets market because it was there first. Well:

    1. It wasn't there first. It may have produced the first fully consumer-friendly tablet and marketed it successfully, but this was on the back of many failures by others;
    2. Patents aren't there to protect markets, they are to benefit consumers through the encouragement of innovation. Apple wins, innovation loses along with consumers;
    3. Companies are spending money on patents instead of innovation. Not just Apple. This doesn't benefit anyone except lawyers (and who wants lawyers to make money?).

    Ahh... awesome. :)

    You'd think with the Windows battle of yesteryear Apple would be more sympathetic.

    If apple was any more than a marketing company they wouldn't make their phones out of glass.. they want them to die, so you buy another one. 2 year turnover is not enough for them.

    and since they're not selling enough products, they've had to resort to suing their competitors

    Actually it is true enough - the idea has been around for a long time in Sci Fi - as have smartphones, surgically attached earphones, and so many other things it is impossible to state.

    If they existed in a book then the idea has already happened and it is non-patentable. Obviously the way you put yours together could be but hands free or touch screen with hand movements is as old as Sci Fi

    I cite this you tube video.

    It has some very interesting regarding copywrite. I know patent's are different in this regard, but I thought it was relevant as well as entertaining and informative.

    Considering that HP own pretty well every patent in existance regarding touch screen technology, I can't quite see how Apple can claim rights to any design or functionality on pads. Being flat and square are ergonomic norms within human society and essential lends from the design of books at the base level so is in itself a shape that can not be patented. I hope every judge in the world opens their eyes to the ambiguous nature of these and other claim and patents made by Apple, and also that the companies who actually patented a lot of the ideas that Apple calim to own will take action against Apple for thier claims (I'm sure HP could almost close Apple down if they felt inclined)

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