Samsung Cites Science Fiction Film in Patent Defense Against Apple

The ongoing court battle between Apple and Samsung has been nothing short of entertaining. From Samsung’s request to see the iPhone 5, to Apple’s European Union injunction, the case has been full of action. And it’s not over by any means.

The latest twist in the copycat lawsuit takes the entertainment to a whole new level. Since Apple claims that Samsung copied its tablet design with the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Samsung is claiming Apple copied science fiction

“Prior art.” It’s a legal term, used in patent law, that refers to evidence of an invention before a patented invention. If an invention has been described in prior art, a patent on that invention is not valid.

That being said, FOSSPatents reported yesterday that Samsung revealed evidence of prior art to the iPad in their latest court filing. But it didn’t involve a patent, or an invention. It involved a movie.


In Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, two characters are seen using a thin, all-screen computing device that resembles an iPad. In fact, Samsung believes the two look so much alike, that they admitted it as evidence in the lawsuit.

“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. 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 fact.”

Ultra-thin computer tablets have long sense been used in Hollywood and science fiction. The Next Web points out examples in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The Incredibles, an animated film from Jobs-owned Pixar.

Obviously, Samsung’s case isn’t built solely around the movie evidence. But it does raise an interesting point. Is anyone copying Apple’s tablet design? Or is the tablet just a natural evolution of the personal computer?