New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

Samsung Cites Kubrick's '2001' Film as Prior Art Defense Against Apple's Injunction Request

As we've noted in a number of reports in recent months, Apple and Samsung are currently engaged in a high-stakes intellectual property battle, with Apple seeking injunctions in a number of countries to prevent Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab and other Android-based products. Apple claims that Samsung has infringed upon Apple's intellectual property rights by copying the designs of popular Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

In a curious turn of events noted by FOSS Patents, Samsung has turned to the film industry in its defense against Apple's request for an injunction in the United States.

According to court filings, Samsung has presented a scene from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey as evidence of prior art that should invalidate Apple's design claims on the iPad. From the filing:
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.
The patent in question is a design patent covering the ornamental design of the iPad, with Apple claiming that the Samsung Galaxy Tab is substantially identical to that design. By pointing to an example of a similar design made public in 1968, even if not an actual functioning tablet device, Samsung hopes to demonstrate that there is little variation possible when designing a tablet and show that the general concept used by Apple for the iPad has actually been circulating for decades.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

49 months ago
Steve: Stop selling the Galaxy Tab!

TAB10.1: I'm sorry Steve, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Steve: What's the problem?

TAB10.1: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Steve: What are you talking about, TAB?

TAB10.1: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Rating: 107 Votes
49 months ago
Wow, that is genius.

Kudos to Samsung's lawyers, I don't think you can get more prior than that.
Rating: 39 Votes
49 months ago
I think it's great that their source is a YouTube clip, surely copied and uploaded without permission. A nervy way to wage an intellectual property battle!
Rating: 34 Votes
49 months ago

Those arent tablets...did anyone in that scene pick one up? Move it?

Its a display table.

Nope. Limits of visual effects (and budget) at the time meant they kept their tablets on the table and their hands/heads/bodies out of way.

OTOH - I love seeing disputes coming up against prior art from science fiction. It's a reassuring thing to see that the predicted future of the past is coming true. :)
Rating: 34 Votes
49 months ago
Gotcha, Steve. By about 40 years, too.
Rating: 30 Votes
49 months ago
The general form factor design of the iPad is not something that should be able to be patented. It's stupid for anyone (including Apple) to think they can do that.

If a competitive device has literally the exact same dimensions, curves, and materials as the iPad... that's one thing. But you can't patent a 10" x 7" x .3" device, and sue companies for using anything close to those dimensions.

In some respects, I think Apple is a great company. Then they try to patent the dimensions of their devices, or phrases like App Store... and I'm reminded that they're just as bad as the rest.
Rating: 29 Votes
49 months ago
Those arent tablets...did anyone in that scene pick one up? Move it?

Its a display table.
Rating: 23 Votes
49 months ago

Those arent tablets...did anyone in that scene pick one up? Move it?

Its a display table.

The table is obviously meant to be vacant underneath given it is a table for eating and the occupants' legs must go under it. Furthermore, the edges of these tablets can be seen hanging over the edges of the table at odd angles. The combination of these two facts are there to make it clear that they are mobile tablets and not fixed displays.

At the time of filming, they would have only had large CRTs to do this shot with, so the actors could not move them. They had to create the illusion by placing them in an environment where it would not make sense for them to not be tablets.
Rating: 22 Votes
49 months ago

Those arent tablets...did anyone in that scene pick one up? Move it?

Its a display table.

They're tablets, you can clearly see them in the close-up shots, even on the wide angle you can see the corners hanging off the side of the table.
They're never moved on-screen because of the technology they used to make them work, 2001 was made prior to blue/green screen technology.
As far as I remember, they actually used film projectors, and projected the image directly on the screens.
Rating: 19 Votes
49 months ago

as good an effort as this is, its pointless..

Apple owns patents for specific designs and products, and no matter what went before it, that is what Apple are defending...

No matter how good the laywers are, that isnt going to change the outcome.

You couldn't be more wrong.
Patents get invalidated all the time.

As for this move by Samsung, all i can say is nicely played.
Let's see Apple's response.

Remember folks... this is about the design, not functionality.
Rating: 17 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]