2001-tabletSamsung has cited a scene from the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey as a legal defense against Apple in the continuing patent battle between the two companies.

In a brief opposing Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction on Samsung’s devices, Samsung asserts that the tablet-like devices featured in a clip from 2001 predate the iPad. Apple says Samsung “slavishly copied” the design of the iPad when it made its own Galaxy Tab tablets, but Samsung makes an interesting case otherwise. Samsung wrote:

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. 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.

Basically, Samsung thinks the prior art from 2001 is the real inspiration for all modern tablets, so Samsung isn’t actually copying the iPad’s design. While the tablet-like devices featured in the movie have similarities to the tablets of today, it’s unclear whether the defense will work. But regardless, we think it’s a pretty cool that a science fiction classic is being used as a legal defense. We hope properties like Star Trek and Star Wars get some love in the future too.

Apple’s legal feud with Samsung started in April with a lawsuit concerning the company’s Galaxy Android smartphones and Galaxy Tab. Apple argued in U.S. courts that Samsung’s devices imitated both the iPhone and iPad. Naturally, Samsung filed a counter-suit against Apple and the battle eventually made its way to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which can block the importation of devices into the U.S, and over to European courts. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was briefly banned in most of Europe, but the ban has since been lifted.

Watch the short scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey below:

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