Apple vs. Samsung: a space odyssey

Anyone who hasn’t been overly-distracted by actually using their tablette devices (the name will catch on if it kills me) knows all about the ongoing patent war between Apple (maker of the iPad) and Samsung (maker of the Galaxy Tab).

Early this year Samsung started the exchange by citing several process patents that Apple was allegedly infringing upon. Months later, Apple came back at Samsung, saying that the look and interface of the Galaxy and Galaxy Tab were too close to those of the iPhone and iPad, respectively.

Now, Samsung has shot back, saying that Apple didn’t invent the general look of the iPad, citing precedent in, of all places, a science-fiction film. The company claims that devices with the same general design as the iPad were represented in the Stanley Kubrick classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Samsung's legal brief apparently has a still from the film, and even includes a link to a clip of the film that is on YouTube.

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The weaponization of patents

This opens up all sorts of floodgates. If you ever develop time travel and the key component of your machine happens to be three glowing tubes radiating out in a “Y,” then good luck trying to keep anyone else from making other time machines whose components look sort of like that. It’s been done in the "Back to the Future" movies. And don’t call it a flux capacitor, whatever you do!

Or if you make a teleportation system whose controls consist of three dimmer switches, don’t be surprised when everyone starts beaming people up that way. It worked for the crew of the Enterprise. You have been warned.

Seriously though, this somewhat ridiculous countersuit just puts a light on how untenable Apple’s prior suit is. It kind of reminds me of when Huey Lewis sued the guy who did the theme to “Ghostbusters” because it sounded just a little too much like “I Want A New Drug.”

Yes, Apple, Samsung also made a tablette that was a rectangle that is mostly a screen on one side and is also very thin. That's pretty much a description of the form factor. "2001" showed us what these computers could look like once we were at the sufficient technology level.

At least nobody is tripping over each other to develop HAL 9000, yet. 

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Sep 5, 2011

There was nothing silly about the lightsaber lawsuit. They wanted to avoid a situation where people used this thing inappropriately, injured themselves or others and then produce a headline like "cat killed by lightsabre wielding owner".

Fri, Aug 26, 2011 Dan Andersen

The author needs to cast his mind back to what tablets looked like prior to the iPad: They were thick, heavy, well padded, and provided lots of traditional ports. And probably, a stylus. After the iPad, tablets took on a whole new look--the iPad look. Samsung had the most blatantly imitative take, a very bold move for one of Apple’s principal suppliers! Who could blame Apple for bringing the hammer down?

Fri, Aug 26, 2011 DriodGuy

Did you know that Geroge Lucas sued a guy who actually invented a light saber for medial use? I mean here is a guy who makes something up and then thinks he owns it. When the real thing is made, he tried to act like the inventor. He dropped it eventually, but not before looking pretty silly.

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