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Samsung Cites 2001: A Space Odyssey In Apple Patent Case 432

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-steve-i-can't-do-that dept.
suraj.sun and several other readers sent word that Samsung is using a clip from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as an example of prior art in its defense against Apple's patent infringement claims. "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 factor." Samsung also supplied a clip from 1970s British TV series The Tomorrow People.
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Samsung Cites 2001: A Space Odyssey In Apple Patent Case

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  • This is why! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:12PM (#37185896)

    Patents should only cover technical innovations.

    Trademarks should cover design, and with much more specificity. BRANDING people.

    • and this is also why we'll never see flying cars. Damn the practicalities, no company could establish a respectable monopoly through patent lawfare.

      • Re:This is why! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:40PM (#37186090)

        I always thought it was the whole Z-axis thing. People can barely handle X Y.

      • This is why we don't see ground cars with four rubber wheels! Damn the practicalities, no company could establish a respectable monopoly through patent lawfare.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Flying cars were invented over 100 years ago. They called them airplanes. People just keep foolishly ignoring them because they have wings and need some takeoff room. It would be about as senseless as if the people who once called cars themselves "horseless carriages" insisted that these contraptions weren't horseless carriages because you needed to keep filling them with gasoline.

        Work within the limitations of the solution. Flying cars exist - most people just aren't capable of piloting them.

    • You should have written that as:

      Samsung: "I'm sorry Steve, I'm afraid I can't let you do that".
      Steve: "What's the problem?"
      Samsung: "I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."
      Steve: "What are you talking about?"
      Samsung: "Your patent claim is null and void"
      Steve: "Where the hell did you get that idea,"
      Samsung: "See youtube video"

  • by conspirator57 (1123519) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:13PM (#37185902)

    I can't allow your patent suit to proceed.

  • by eparker05 (1738842) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:16PM (#37185922)

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=6BsWAAAAEBAJ&zoom=4&pg=PA5#v=onepage&q&f=false [google.com]

    Let's see, Apple's patent contains no more substance than the movie; it is just a bunch of pictures of a hypothetical device (it doesn't even look much like the current iPad). It is so generic that there is no way the courts will let it stand if they have any sanity left.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:28PM (#37186002)

      there is no way the courts will let it stand if they have any sanity left.

      So Apple will definitely win.

      • >> So Apple will definitely win.

        Really? According to the claimed "ornamental desing" by Apple, this Kubrik's device is closer to the patent design due to slimmer bezel, the Apple'e own iPad has a huge thick bezel, very unlike the pictured one in the patent design. And what they claim is just and only the shape of the device, any fuctionality is not even mentioned.
    • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

      by Medevilae (1456015) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:52PM (#37186178)
      Apple patented the rectangle.
    • by optimism (2183618)

      There's the irony. The best functional device designs are minimal, generic, faceless, fading into the background so you can just perform the functions.

      Apple should be highly praised for adhering to that design philosophy with the iphone and ipad.

      But there's no way in hell that they can claim ownership over what is the end goal for ~all~ functional design.

      I'm sure they know this, and this legal wrangling has more to do with the dynamics of a powerful producer and their critical supplier than anything else. H

    • if they have any sanity left.

      You had a damn fine argument up to that point!

  • by bky1701 (979071) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:17PM (#37185932) Homepage
    Star Trek's PADDs are almost identical in operation to modern tablets, and across the different shows, came up in every possible kind of design imaginable.
    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:37PM (#37186064)
      That's because Steve Jobs was partially inspired by them.
    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:56PM (#37186202)
      Yeah. They barely even bothered to change the name.
    • I wonder why Samsung stopped at that movie. ST:TOS had them [memory-alpha.org] well before the 2001 A Space Odyssey came out. How the **** did this patent get approved and why isn't the judge laughing them out of the courtroom with punitive damages for wasting the court's time?
    • And one should certainly rely on the fictional Star Trek(tm) universe for patent guidance...

      Those series were prescient in their anticipation of frivolous patent abuse. Most notably by their stand not to use the "infringing technology" of "circuit breakers", as evidenced by every episode where the consoles exploded into showers of sparks, during a power-surge.
      • And one should certainly rely on the fictional Star Trek(tm) universe for patent guidance...

        It's not the fictional universe that's important, it's the writer or writers who created it (who actually happen to be real people in a real universe, believe it or not). Apple is claiming that the 14 people listed on their patent have invented a vague design for a generic "electronic device", which is rectangular and thin with a screen on one side, and that they did so within the past decade. Obviously they couldn't have "invented" that if writers were envisioning the same thing 50 or 60 or 100 years ago

      • by delinear (991444)
        It's a design patent. Star Trek was a fictional show but the designs were real, they were all designed by someone and they all pre-date the patent. You wouldn't use Star Trek as a reason to prevent a patent on a real life replicator or warp drive, but the designs on the show can definitely stand as prior art to the patents on designs for tech gear.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        For design patents, definitely. In fact for design patents movies should present a stronger case than an actual existing product, because more people have been exposed to the design.

  • StarTrek TNG (Score:5, Informative)

    by avxo (861854) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:19PM (#37185946)
    TNG certainly showcased a tablet like device (the "PADD") in most of the shows.
    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Yes, but the PADDs were separate for each document or sets of documents. There are scenes where people will have a pile of PADDs on their desks. So that seems to be a bit different technology. (And yes, this does show that our technology has surpassed that of Star Trek. Yes, we live in the future, and yes, that's awesome.)
      • by sjames (1099)

        Evidently, they don't have to be, and they are tied to the ship's computer. That's how Beverly's play became Data's "Ode to Spot" in one episode. I guess once you can trivially replicate more, it's more efficient to use several at once at your desk.

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          There are scenes where people physically hand someone else a PADD (although I'm not actually sure I remember if there are such scenes in TNG. There are certainly are in TOS, and there's a scene in DS9 where they go back in time to TOS and that episode has a bit where Sisko gets an excuse to hand a pad to Kirk because he wants an excuse to meet Kirk.)
          • by sjames (1099)

            Yer, there are, but it's still unclear if that's because they HAVE to do it that way or if they just find it more convenient than saying, "Captain, please go to aich tee tee pee colon slash slash....." given that they don't have to pay for the PADD.

            • by Cruciform (42896)

              There's an app that lets you exchange contacts between two devices (I've only seen the iPhone version) by bumping them together.
              It senses the collision, discovers the other device and exchanges the data.
              In the future they wouldn't even need to give urls, you'd just share the content through some trigger.

              Okay, I'm being silly. In the future all content will be locked down by corporations and any such endeavor will be met by fines, imprisonment, and possibly torture.

      • by voss (52565)

        Thats not a problem of technological vision (if you saw the were using finger slides just like they do with ipad today!)

        The pile of PADDs was a metaphor for a pile of books. Also with cheap easily replicated pads you might actually want each pad to be on a different document.

      • by pjabardo (977600)
        You could be right but maybe this is similar to the use of multiple monitors in desktop computers. If pads were very cheap might we not do the same thing? The cost (and fragility and weight) does limit how we use such devices. Eliminating these restraints we might see other use patterns. Maybe not.
    • by Lanteran (1883836)

      Hell, TOS had them in the 60's.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:24PM (#37185978)
    What, no reference to the tablet computers used in the early Startrek shows? They out date both of the references.
    • To be fair, I don't remember any tablet like devices on The Original Series, so the reference to 2001 is the earliest, being 1969. The devices in ToS were typical props with a display screen and buttons/switches on the face of it and some neat looking doo-dads on top. The first truly tablet-like device in Star Trek is probably the first season of The Next Generation, which went into development in 1985 (probably earlier) and I'm sure there are concept drawings dating to that year, giving that a 10 year ju

      • by mark-t (151149)
        There *definitely* were tablet like devices in TOS... google PADD TOS, and look at images.
        • Ok, but still, the PADD from TNG is pretty much identical in concept to the iPad, so for prior art, it seems like they'd go for things that directly resemble the device in question. Apple doesn't own the concept of a tablet, they're claiming the design infringes.

          Memory Alpha even describes the ToS "PADD" as a digital clipboard operated with a stylus and the prop Uhuru is pictured using looks nothing like an iPad.

          But I stand corrected, there were tablets on ToS. I must have never really noticed they were b

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          THAT looks nothing like an iPad or a PADD. It's a thick clipboard. It's a big fat wedge with incandescent lights on it.

          One of my HTPCs takes up less space.

      • by Jonner (189691)

        How about the Dynabook [wikipedia.org] which could be seen as the inspiration for modern laptops and tablets and was conceptualized in 1968? Apparently Alan Kay called Microsoft's Tablet PC "the first Dynabook-like computer good enough to criticize" rather than anything from Apple.

  • ... that the ideal technological device for the display of a rectangular image is something roughly the shape and size of a modern tablet. And they figured this out when displays virtually always involved some sort of projection and focussing (either through the electron gun of a CRT or the light of a projector) which would have made such devices impossible.

    And we need judges, lawyers, and marketplace chaos to figure that out today. Maybe society is getting dumber.

    • ACC seems to have come closer to the ipad [tuaw.com]

      When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he 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. Switching to the display unit's short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.

      Each had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the postage-stamp-sized rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

      Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word "newspaper," of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.

      It was hard to imagine how the system could be improved or made more convenient. But sooner or later, Floyd guessed, it would pass away, to be replaced by something as unimaginable as the Newspad itself would have been to Caxton or Gutenberg.

      From 2001: A Space Odyssey , by Arthur C. Clarke.

      Published by Del Rey in 1968

  • ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!

    We claim the ornamental DESIGN FOR AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE, SUBSTANTIALLY SHOWN AS DESCRIBED

    Jesus H. Creepy Christ On A Crutch

    • Re:One goddamn claim (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:09PM (#37186280)

      This is how design patents work. They are a completely different beast from utility patents.

      I don't deal with design patents, so I'm not extremely familiar with their intricacies, but generally speaking, you'll have one claim and one drawing. The claim almost always specifically refers to the drawing. In the drawing, any features shown with dashed lines are not part of the "claim" - they are exemplary in nature to help you see how the claimed features interrelate to the rest of the object. Only the parts with solid lines are considered part of the ornamental design which their patent is intended to cover.

    • You don't actually know what a design patent is, do you?

  • That's good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:54PM (#37186192)
    But i still wish they'd introduce this as prior art. [howstuffworks.com]

    It's not the same color and it's mechanical rather than electronic, but i really don't think that's a significant difference in terms of the important bits. Flat rectangular thing with bezeled edges and rounded corners that your draw on. This form factor was worked out ages ago, the theory of improving the interface and what you can do with it are certainly important technological improvements but have little to do with the form factor that Apple is claiming is important.
  • So according to Samsung, if someone "invent" one day a Transporter [wikipedia.org] like in Star Trek, that someone would not be able to patent it?

    That's a shame, I'm sure that guy could make a fortune. :)

  • Clueless haters... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sl3xd (111641) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:13PM (#37186324) Journal

    From what I've read in the actual patents involved, the idea of a portable touchscreen isn't what's being contested. Not that the average slash otter is interested in that fact - it appears most posters are oblivious to the fact that Apple isn't suing over the idea of a touchscreen tablet.

    Is it apparently lost on Samsung and the frothing-at-the-mouth haters that the patents in question are not about making a touchscreen tablet, but is about using the following graphic design elements:
    * A sunflower for the 'photos' app
    * A white cartoon bubble with a green background for SMS
    * A calendar icon with a red bar on top, and black text showing the current day
    * An envelope icon against a cloudy sky
    * A notebook with a brown binding on top

    Any of those can easily be represented just as clearly with a different icon, but Samsung flatly refuses to change the icon.

    I don't see how pointing out that tablets are a staple of scifi will change the design patents. This isn't about 'invention', it's about graphic design - and an entirely different part of the law.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:41PM (#37186492) Journal
      Can you provide links so the rest of us csn see what you are talking about?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So Apple invented sunflowers, the concept of cartoon bubbles to mean "chatting", red bars on calendars, and so on?

      Damn, I guess they'll have to sue Corel back in 1990 (they used a sunflower as their icon for image files - I'm pretty sure Eyeon and a couple of other graphics companies still do), every comic book artist out there, every office calendar manufacturer, the people who designed icons for Windows 3.0 (notebook with brown binding), etc., etc...

      The lawsuit is about the iPad, it's not about the design

    • by elhedran (768858) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:59PM (#37186580)

      I think you may need to provide some links to back the idea its about the icons as well. I'm looking at

      http://allthingsd.com/20110418/apple-files-patent-suit-against-samsung-over-galaxy-line-of-phones-and-tablets/ [allthingsd.com]

      more specifically the screenshot

      http://mobilized.allthingsd.com/files/2011/04/apple-v.-samsung-2.png [allthingsd.com]

      * A sunflower for the 'photos' app

      I don't even see a sunflower or flower of any type.

      * A white cartoon bubble with a green background for SMS

      The sms icon isn't green and doesn't have a cartoon bubble.

      * A calendar icon with a red bar on top, and black text showing the current day

      Its green, and that said it looks like a day planner calendar. Yes, this is similar but at some point you have to say "What else would look like a calendar and fit on an icon?" If the answer is only two or three things patenting one of them is absurd.

      * An envelope icon against a cloudy sky

      well, envelopes for email existed long before the iPhone. I don't see clouds or sky either in the email icons.

      * A notebook with a brown binding on top

      I'll give you this one... but again how many ways can you represent a 'note pad'.

      So all in all we have one copied icon out of your list. I don't think your claim this is about the icons has merit given what I've been able to find. Obviously if you have some other links I'd be keen to see them and review my position.

    • by theurge14 (820596)

      The green Phone icon on both devices are exactly the same as well.

    • by medv4380 (1604309) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @10:04PM (#37186610)
      What you describe shouldn't be a patent but rather a Trade Mark
    • by daver00 (1336845)

      I believe the claim that that this [google.com], this [google.com] and this [google.com] are all invalid due to prior art. None of these patents detail anything you listed, and all detail simple pictures of a tablet-like device almost identical in description to those in the film (and hundreds of others). So maybe you should just sit down and stop calling people names, huh?

    • And a trashcan icon could also be represented with another Icon. Would you have supüported the first guy which came with trashcan icons suing everybody else ?
    • by aztracker1 (702135) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @10:28PM (#37186738) Homepage

      This isn't about 'invention', it's about graphic design - and an entirely different part of the law.

      Exactly, that would be copyright law, not patent law.

    • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @10:30PM (#37186750) Homepage

      Simply wrong. This is a patent suit, not copyright or trademark. Have a look at the patent in question [google.com]. THAT is what Apple is claiming they should have a worldwide exclusive right to.

      That is what Samsung is countering by showing very similar designs from the '60s.

      However, looking at the side by side of the icons [businessinsider.com], I remain unconvinced even there. The phone icon is predated by Bell using something like that on payphone pedestals for ages if Apple has a case against Samsung there, then Bell should sue Apple. Flowers of various sorts are commonly used for photo icons. Gears are likewise commonly used for configuration and such (If Apple has a case against Samsung on that one, then MS has a case against Apple).

    • by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @10:37PM (#37186800)
      No. What you say is completely false. Read the patent [google.com] and see for yourself. (It will only take you a minute - it consists almost entirely of pictures.) You will not find any sunflower in it, any cartoon bubble, any envelope against a cloudy sky, or anything like that. What you'll find are very generic outlines of a tablet, where the front face is mostly taken up by a touch screen. And absolutely nothing else. That's the entire content of the patent. That's what this is about.
  • ... does including a screenshot taken from a possibly-copyright-infringing YouTube video count as "fair use"? Or did they get permission from the copyright holder to include that image?

    Come on, people, we need to dot every i and cross every t when it comes to Imaginary Property laws.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @10:21PM (#37186702) Homepage Journal
    Both rectangular.
  • Alan Kay, 1972 looks like a kindle or an ipad with onscreen keyboard
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynabook [wikipedia.org]
    Actually a popular encyclopedia we had in my house around 30 years ago had a yearly supplement called year book or world book I think. It had a special feature showing Smalltalk running on a Dynabook - IIRC a tablet without a keyboard showing.
    You had sprites, like tiny triangles, and you could program them in Smalltalk like a logo turtle but it seemed even more sophisticated.
    This totally fired my imagination as a young kid, I would have dreams about it and it got me into computers (though not sure if it was the first contact with them since I took a course in fortran on keypunch machines too around then).
    Incidentally this article from Jan. 2010 [sciencefictionworld.com] says:
    In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke describes something called a "Newspad" (a foolscap-sized device), which one of the novel’s central characters, Heywood Floyd, “plugs into the ship's information circuit and scans the latest reports from Earth. One by one he 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. Switching to the display unit's short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.”

  • Apple the Theif (Score:5, Informative)

    by protektor (63514) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @02:19AM (#37188176)

    If Apple wants to claim that other people are stealing their ideas and their work, then I would love to know how they justify all the stealing that they have done. I would love to know how Apple can justify stealing other people's work and then patenting it.

    I want to know how Apple thinks it is ok to steal the trade dress of legal tablets/paper and act like they invented it and that they can be protected from others using the exact same thing. Is Apple licensing the legal tablet/paper look from one of the paper companies? If not then Apple needs to be sued for stealing too. I also recall several programs that used this exact icon for their simple note editor program that wasn't a full blown word processor. I recall it being used on almost every OS, Apple IIgs, Windows (all versions), Linux, Mac, etc. Apple point blank stole this from earlier programs because people have already been trained that the picture of a notepad means a small note taking program, not full blown word processor. So Apple is not original or the first, so they never should have been given a patent, not to mention so obvious and not at all innovative.

    The same goes for the envelope for email. I believe that either one of the early graphic computer BBSes or Prodigy might want a word with Apple for stealing their interface icons. I would look at Prodigy, Hawayii FYI, Minitel, Habitat (pre-AOL) or early NAPLPS BBS (TurBoard, Searchlight, TBBS, Renegade, etc) or the Excalibur BBS, the first windows BBS. They all used an envelope of somSo ae sort to represent email. Apple point blank stole this from earlier programs because people have already been trained that the picture of an envelope means email. So again not original or the first so they never should have been given a patent, not to mention so obvious and not at all innovative.

    I also believe that the cartoon bubble was used by early graphic BBS to indicate chat with the SYSOP as well. I know it was in fact used in Habitat as well (pre-AOL). So all Apple did here was re-purpose the icon for SMS chat/msgs. So many Windows, Internet programs (chat, IRC, Palace chat, etc) and communication software packages have used the cartoon bubble as an icon over the years. Apple point blank stole this from earlier programs because people have already been trained that the picture of cartoon bubble means talk/chat/message. Again not original or the first, so they never should have been given a patent, not to mention so obvious and not at all innovative.

    The patent on the dial icon is going to fall into the exact same problems. Apple point blank stole this from earlier programs because people have already been trained that the picture of a phone or a handset means to call or use phone functions. I am pretty sure some of the early BBS programs used the phone handset and the phone itself as icons in the graphic terminal programs they used. So once again Apple is not original or the first here. Apple may have even stolen from their own developers. Early Apple II BBS programs used the mouse characters to make a full blown graphic interface for a BBS. I remember GBBS and a couple of others did this. I might even still have the floppies around here for those BBS programs and the dialers. You should also look at any of the contact managers that would dial a number for you as well. Apple point blank stole this from earlier programs because people have already been trained that the picture of a phone or handset means to call or use telephone functions. Again not original or the first, so they never should have been given a patent, not to mention so obvious and not at all innovative.

    The settings icon of gears, once again Apple is not the first to use this. In fact they point blank stole this from earlier programs that used the gears icon for settings. The gears icon with gears interlocking and without gears interlocking have been used long before the iPhone, which is exactly why they used this icon because people had already been trained as to what it meant. Again not original or the first so

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