Last month, Apple filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tablet and some smartphones based on patents that Apple holds. Samsung responded with an opposition brief using an image taken from the Kubrick film.
The image from the film depicts the characters using tablet-like devices, which Samsung lawyers are hoping will prove that designs for the iPad and iPhone were established long before Apple filed patents for them.
“In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers,” reads the explanation for the exhibit. “The tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominantly 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 is relying on this “prior art” to invalidate Apple’s iPad patents. Prior art, also know as state of the art or background art, consists of all information that has been made public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent’s claims of originality. If an invention has been demonstrated in prior art, a patent on that invention could be proved invalid.
It will be interesting to see what the judge thinks of Samsung’s defense tactics. If successful, the Star Trek series could also be fertile ground for prior art – think sliding doors, wireless earpieces, portable memory, voice activated computers, etc.