John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

I’m Sorry, Dave, I’m Afraid I’ve Seen That Tablet Design Before

Looks like Samsung has finally found some prior art with which to dispute Apple’s claims that it “slavishly copied” the design of the iPad: Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

In a brief opposing Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the United States, Samsung argues that one of the iPad design patents at issue in the case is predated by a prop used in Kubrick’s 1968 film.

“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. 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.”

In other words, if Samsung “slavishly” copied Apple, Apple equally slavishly copied a design featured in Kubrick’s seminal science fiction film.

Will the court agree? It seems unlikely, but who knows. There certainly are similarities, and Samsung clearly feels they’re worth noting. But are they substantial enough to undermine Apple’s legal offensive? In any event, this has got to be one of the greatest prior-art defenses ever mounted.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik