Apple, with its iPad, and Samsung, with its Galaxy tablet, have tangled in court in no fewer than nine countries, with Apple arguing that Samsung has infringed on its patents.
Apple has won an injunction against the Galaxy in Germany until at least Sept. 9, where it argued that Samsung "slavishly" copied the iPad's design.
Here in the U.S., Samsung has defended itself with a brief in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, arguing that Apple was hardly the first to think of a flat tablet. In "2001" -- actually shot in 1965 and released in 1968 -- two astronauts on the way to Jupiter watch themselves give a TV interview on what looks very much like an iPad.
Here's part of Samsung's attorneys' argument:
"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 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."
(A tip of the hat to Florian Mueller, a follower of patent issues involving mobile devices, who reported the Samsung filing in his blog.)
Kubrick's collaborator on "2001," the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, called the device in the story a "Newspad," and in the book version of "2001" described how a user "would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad." He went on: punch in the code for a story and "the postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it in comfort."
Sound at all like what we have today? Would a judge buy that argument? We'll leave that to the judge.