Samsung Heads Into Film Vault For Kubrick’s ‘2001’ In Apple Patent Defense


Credit: Samsung

Samsung’s lawyers are getting creative in their dispute against Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over patent infringement: they have asserted the general design for a tablet computer used in the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey” as prior art suggesting the iPad design isn’t quite as novel as Apple would like us to believe.

It’s a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but FOSS Patents spotted the court filing overnight in Samsung’s U.S. dispute with Apple over whether or not the Galaxy Tab Android tablet and other Samsung smartphones infringe on Apple’s design patents for the iPad and iPhone. The document contains a list of exhibits that Samsung would like to use as part of its defense that its phones and tablets were not inspired by the iPhone, and an image from the Stanley Kubrick film (included below) showing two astronauts eating a meal while glancing at tablet computers is one of the dozens of examples cited by Samsung.

“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 wrote in the filing. Samsung also cited tablet computers from a 1970s U.K. television called The Tomorrow People in the document as iPad-like, as noted earlier this year by The Register.

The defense strategy exposes some elements of why the patent system is considered a bit of a joke: some design patents are so broad that they can be interpreted as relating to any rectangular electronic device with a screen. But design patents are by definition more subjective than other patents that relate to the way a specific technology is implemented, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says that “clearly a design which simulates a well known, or naturally occurring object or person is not original as required by the statute.”

2001: A Space Odyssey was a pretty well-known movie, but I’m not convinced too many people remember the particular scene highlighted by Samsung’s defense. However, the point is to try and convince the judge to avoid imposing a preliminary injunction against the sale of the Galaxy Tab so that the parties can argue the matter at trial, and demonstrating that a basic design for a tablet computer was conceived in the 1960s may help Samsung in some small way.

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