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Samsung invokes Kubrick's 2001 as prior art vs. Apple

updated 02:45 pm EDT, Tue August 23, 2011

Argues that tablet concept extends back decades

Samsung is using Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as an example of prior art in defense against Apple, notes FOSS Patents. Apple is hoping to score a preliminary injunction against several Samsung products in the United States, including the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung points out, though, that something resembling Apple's definition of its tablet extends as far back as 2001, which was released in 1968.

"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'," a Samsung declaration reads. "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."

Although citing a famous film as prior art is unusual and not Samsung's only defense, it may serve to show that the ideas behind the iPad are not unique to Apple and in fact have a long precedence in popular culture. Writers have often commented that the iPad resembles a science-fiction device, such as the tablets used in the Star Trek TV shows.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So what?

    I once heard Isaac Asimov answer a question about why he didn't patent the calculator (someone uses one in Foundation). He pointed out that he merely wrote about it, he had no idea how it would work - he said to that day he suspected there was a highly intelligent cockroach running around the insides wit the numbers.

  1. boris_cleto

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Arthur C Clarke

    Didn't patent the communications satellite saying "I'm often asked why I didn't try to patent the idea of communications satellites. My answer is always, 'A patent is really a license to be sued.' "

  1. facebook_Collin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2011


    Keep trying Samsung

    Hey, I would give them credit here if the tablets on the table looked almost exactly like an iPad, but they don't.

    Judge better duck. Samsung is using the Jackson Pollock method to produce a defense.

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Samsung thinks judges are stupid

    Either that or Samsung is desperate enough to dig deep into the idiot bin of ideas!

  1. prl99

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ten commandments

    Actually, Moses came out with the first documented tablets.......

    Now that's prior art!!

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Samsung should license the Kubrick design

    What if their design *exactly* matches the Kubrick design of 1968. What then? How will you claim it copies Apple at that point?

    Look, Samsung hasn't copied iOS - it runs Android. Apple didn't invent a slate of glass. They just didn't.
    Samsung does have to start with square one, and the Kubrick point - does make sure that the judge understands that much.

    Now, did Samsung do a little mimickry of Apple - i think maybe they did - in which case they are fixing to pay for that - but Apple' want's a very sweeping case against Android, and frankly, they just don't have a leg to stand on for that.

    But will Samsung specifically have to modify their design - slightly - yes.
    I think maybe they will.

  1. bonaccij

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A prop?

    I think where Apple might actually win be able to overturn this is if they can either get someone to prove that those units were later edited to look real (most likely - as in Star Trek - they were just cardboard props) or if they can prove that the technology that runs these wasn't even available in 1969. h***, there are tons of things that we can dream up and 100 years from now they actually invent... but... that doesn't mean that it would ever serve as prior art. I think Samsung is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rear projection screens

    Actually, the "IBM Tele Pads" as seen in "2001" were miniature rear-projection screens built into the set. Movie projectors showing the appropriate images were placed behind each one. The same technique was used for all computer monitors and displays in the movie, for easier frame synchronization while filming.

    You'll notice that Bowman and Poole never move their supposedly portable Tele Pads. Now you know why.

    But seriously, if Samsung is reaching this far, they'll get laughed out of court.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    prior art...

    love the Moses comment... but science fiction was bananas back in the 1930s and if that was a reason for PRIOR art, very few things would be patentable. I imagine the judge will ask some probing questions such as "did this thing in the Kubrik film actually work?" Of course the answer, as stated above, is NO.
    Jonathan-Tanya, why don't you get a job with Samsung as defense counsel. They've shown no genius, neither have you, so you guys are made for each other.
    I'll give Samsung an A for trying really hard, but the Three Stooges could have done better than this one!

  1. TheMacMan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not even close

    If the judge accepts this clip as evidence, imagine how many patent disputes will arise because of prior art from science fiction movies. God the precedence would have far reaching impact. Not a chance Samsung. Just pay up and start innovating.

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