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Prior Art? Really?

Samsung cited the viewscreen used in a scene in Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey as prior art in the lawsuit filed against them by Apple over the likeness of the Galaxy Tab vs. the iPad, claiming that:

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 (sic) online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo. 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. (Source)

Setting aside the fact that there can’t be any question in the minds of rationally thinking people, that the Galaxy Tabs treads in the footsteps of the iPad, albeit drunkenly and without much conviction, there’s the small issue that despite Samsung’s claims, the iPad shares almost no properties with the viewscreens in 2001.

  1. It is about twice the size of the iPad.
  2. It’s edges are flush with the screen, except at the bottom.
  3. It has ten physical push-buttons, numbered 1 through 10 at the bottom.
  4. There is no interaction with the device, aside from Bowman turning it on to view a video signal.

Samsung’s claim misleads by using the term ‘personal tablet computers’, when in fact there is nothing to indicate them as such. The claim also links to a YouTube video which specifically uses the words “Apple iPad” in its title.

There’s only one problem; the viewscreen in 2001 are not computers, they are, flat, battery-powered TVs. They look and and operate exactly how you would extrapolate a TV if you were looking to make a film taking place some 30 years in the future. Smaller and portable. And vertical, for the same reasons that hallways in science fiction films are never simply square. And they display no interactive properties beyond that, nor do they share such crucial properties with the iPad as its grapping bezel, or compact size. Not to mention the ability to function as something other than a TV.

It is no more prior art to the design of the iPad, than a TV set is prior art to the design of the Mac.

Read also: Joen and I follow up.

Update: Justice is served in Germany.