In the computer industry, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
(In computer security, truth is often stranger than fiction, as almost any random sample of spam will reveal – regular readers will surely remember the Are You Dead email which perplexed us back in April.)
Apple, as you probably haven’t been able to avoid knowing, is currently locked in legal battles with Samsung over the two companies’ tablet computing offerings.
And Apple’s Document 1 of Case5:11-cv-01846-LHK in the Northern California Distict Court doesn’t mince its words.
Apple accuses Samsung of a battery of wrongs, in the curious language which suffuses the US legal system, from patent infringement, through federal false designation of origin and unfair competition, to the heinous-sounding unjust enrichment.
Apple, according to Apple, and Apple should know, “revolutionized the telecommunications industry in 2007 when it introduced the wildly popular iPhone”. It was a revolution, according to Apple, because “before the iPhone, cell phones were utilitarian devices.”
Ergo, according to Apple, Samsung is not merely an imitator, but seems to have given up altogether on independent product development, choosing instead “to slavishy copy Apple’s innovative technology.”
(Now you know why not every democratic country thinks it best to have an adversarial legal system.
And why not all Anglophones like splitting infinitives.)
Anyway, everyone knows that you can’t argue with a revolution. That’s why it’s called a revolution. Because of the, ah, revolution involved.
But plucky Samsung has done just that, as keen patent/mobile device commentator Florian Mueller points out with some amusement.
Samsung’s lawyers have presented documentation to the court in which they suggest that Apple’s 2007 “revolution” was no such thing. And they offer a freeze-frame from the 1968 movie classic 2001: A Space Odyssey as evidence:
According to Mueller, Samsung’s court filing points out that the tablet computer in the movie has a lot in common with Apple’s modern offering: “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.”
You have to admit: that’s not a bad argument. It’s certainly a very cool argument, and a surprisingly simple and straightforward one. So straightforward, in fact, that I suspect the lawyers will be delighted to argue over it for just as long as it takes.
Let’s just hope, if Apple really did borrow from 2001, that it borrowed only from the tablet devices shown above, and not from the spaceship’s central computer, HAL.
If you’ve seen the movie (what do I mean, “if” – of course you’ve seen it) you’ll probably remember they had some fairly serious computer security problems towards the end.
36 comments on “Apple got the iPad from WHERE?”
Most of you people just don’t get it. Are you saying that automobile designs can’t be considered intellectual property because “it is basically the same as other four-wheeled internal combustion engine vehicles.” This argument is terrible. Prior to the iPad, the vast majority of the general public did not know what a tablet was (yes devices called tablets existed before the iPad but failed to gain market traction). Now, iPad and tablet are nearly synonymous and real innovation occurred in the development of it. Idiots…
And that's not all….. If you recall, Star Trek had hand-held devices called PADDs, which name I believe is now copyright to Star Trek. Truth stranger than fiction? Oh yes….
Star Trek had the handheld tablet device and Star Trek TNG had all the controls as touch screens for money savings on switches using only graphics on Plexiglass.
That is priceless. I just mentally +1'ed Samsung for that stunt!
I was looking at some of the documents apple have presented, with the neat graphics showing their IP.. they are in no way specific.. quite generic, really.
Further, I don't think that Apple has any footing in this. There's only so many shapes you can make a tablet when you need usability, too. Same goes for width, general dimensions etc.
I think the only design protection you can make on any tablet is your logo. Honestly, it's like patenting the shape and function of a computer monitor or a television. You can't claim that the "placement of plugs" has been copied either, since it's more than likely that many vendors will basically utilize the same internal circuitry for the specific form factor – if not mainboards from the same vendor.
As for revolutionizing the Phone industry… Well, that would be true if the finest function of an iPhone or most other smart-phones was call quality. But it's not.
Here's me hoping that vendors will start prioritizing call quality and reception, rather than fancy "nice to have" features instead.
Shapes, lines, and curves cannot me trademarked, that is why only the names of typefaces can be trademarked and the face itself can be copied and why we have Ariel because MS didn't want to pay the royalty for Helvetica.
Well from what I've understood in Germany you can trademark design and shapes.. which is why it's being handled there I assume?
That also explains why we can't buy the Samsung tab in the EU at present.
(Rights reserved to have missed the point entirely!)
Shapes lines and curves can be copyrighted. Just ask KWA (an airsoft gun maker) who was sued and lost to Glock.
No way! These screens always have been embedded INTO the table! In fact, if I memory servers, Pool or Bowman comes at the table and the screen is already there.
Look at the angle of both screens, they are the same and perfectly measured. They are definitely embedded.
That's another sad case of cinematografic revisionism.
So what if they are embedded? It’s the concept that matters and the concept here is that they are tablets. They may not be able to pick them up, due to the fact that they are embedded into the table, but they were designed to look as though they could be used in that way. The technology of the time couldn’t produce the devices that they wanted to show in the movie, so they improvised. The thing is, here is something that looks a hell of a lot like an ipad, about 40 years earlier to them being made.
Even then, Apple weren’t the first PC manufacturers to produce tablet PCs. Microsoft had a tablet version of XP, which various manufacturers made devices for. Fair enough, a lot of the devices were smaller laptops with rotatable screens that could fold flat on top, making them quite a bit heavier than the ipad, but some had detachable screens, making them very similar in size.
As for the iphone. That wasn’t original either. I have had smartphones since 2005, which were more than “utilitarian devices”.
Apple take ideas that other people have quietly tried, make them shiny and market them in a trendy fashion, claiming that they were the first ones to think of it.
Zasca, you need to go back and watch the movie. Frank clearly puts his "pad" down on his side of the table and goes to get his food.
Yes, they are embedded in the table, so Samsung's lawyers are blind. The screen images are projected 16mm film according to "The Making of 2001." More like Star Trek and Star Trek TNG where everything were touch screens (saved money on switches using only graphics on Plexiglass).
Wow. That's really, really rabid fanboyism.
In other shots in the movie we see that table. No screens. Furthermore, it's described in the text of the novel; read an excerpt here:
Sorry, but you’re wrong about embedded screens. In several scenes, the pads are seen carried. Even in this still, if you look closely, you can see that the bottom right corner of the left pad is overlapping the edge of the table and to an even greater extent, the right-hand pad casts a shadow on the lip of the table as well.
As for the angles being identical, so are the angles of placement of the food trays, with the cups placed in the outer corners to match. I suspect this is no accident, because everywhere in the movie, the whole environment is made to look perfect by having everything tidily arranged… rather like an Apple store ;o)
I guess Apple considers your ability to connect and maintain a fully functioning connection with said device – for more than 5-minutes is a “Leap Forward” in progress?
The fact that the screens in 2001 where embedded was more a filming issue than an artistic one. At the time of making the only way to get nice clean images on a surface was either back or front-projection of film-material. Yes there was CRT back then too, but knowing that Kubrick was kind of a stickler for quality he would never have accepted blurry and flickery screens. So the only option was to build the sets with embedded 16mm projectors. And then even if Kubrick wanted them to carry these tablets around it was at that time technically impossible.
Interesting to note too, is that in the very same movie, or rather book. The TeleText-system is outlined for use in laptop computers with rudimentary internet connection. Then again, we must remember that both Kubrick and Clarke where having ongoing discussions with think-tanks and R&D divisions of the world’s leading Tech producers in order to make their movie as groundbreaking and at the same time close to reality as possible.
And by the way. The tablet computers were around before the iPad and iPhone. And another source of inspiration could just as easily have been the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Especially if we include the reliability issues and the cult following of the Guide. The Guide basically is just an iPad with a Wikipedia app.
If Apple, or rather Jobs, thinks they dreamed up the concept in a vacuum it only solidifies my opinion of their untrustworthy nature. I mean, it’s not like they themselves looked at the development over at Xerox with their emerging technology of windows-based OS and mouse-orientation and said, “Neat… but I think we could do the same but different.” Right? Or did they “invent” portable MP3-players with the introduction of the iPod?
Did Samsung watch all scifi movies and scan them frame by frame? This is so cool, calling a revolution to that. It will definitely revolutionise the judge’s judgement. I believe the movie itself has a copyright?
Even if they were embedded in the table, the table is, as can be seen, quite thin.
I've been reading science fiction books for over 50 years and neither apple nor any other manufacturer has come up with an idea of their own, all they have done is work out how to "Make it so"
Nice to see one rationale, intelligent comment… "invention" does not exist… What we call so is in fact nothing more than -discovery- of a possibility that was always there… Remixing and reengineering it is…
If the screens are embedded, then why do they overlap the table’s edge?
Apple is again trying to bully another company into submission. Until a cell phone is developed that has as it's main function call quality, there is/has been no real revolution.
After reading all the follow-up Star Trek references in this comment section, I just had to go re-watch the Patrick Stewart clip from the TV Show "Extras".
For the uninitiated, if any:
Patrick Stewart: I will "Make It So."
[blank look from Andy]
Patrick Stewart: You've seen "Star Trek: The Next Generation?"
Andy Millman: I haven't, no.
Patrick Stewart: Why? Your wife won't let you have it on?
Andy Millman: I'm not married.
Patrick Stewart: Oh, your girlfriend then?
Andy Millman: I haven't got a girlfriend either. I live alone.
Patrick Stewart: You're not married, you haven't got a girlfriend… and you've never watched "Star Trek?"
Andy Millman: No.
Patrick Stewart: Good Lord…
So with Job's all black outfits, does that make him modeled after the monolith?
"I'm sorry Dave I'm sorry I can't do that"–HAL
I wouldn't be suprised if the ipad & ipad2 start having a red eye in the middle and start speaking that words if an app won't launch 😀
Why not. The Droid X phones boot up with something very similar.
This is nuts. Who cares if it was first seen in a movie? I mean seriously does this mean that now anything we have seen in a movie can never be made because someone might call foul? So this means no food replicators, no teleportation in the future. Wow, this is just silly.
Its not about whether or not it was in a film first. This is because Apple took on Samsung and won. Now Samsung are trying to argue that Apple don't own the design rights as they have been used before.
No. . . it means that no company can patent these as novel concepts they claim to have invented, because Arthur C. Clarke already did that. The ideas are out there, free for the taking, as part of our cultural heritage.
Samsung is not claiming that they should own the patent instead of Apple. They are claiming that Apple shouldn't have been able to patent it in the first place because Apple was dipping into the pool of public knowledge and ideas.
Now, a company could patent a particular method of doing any of these things if it hasn't been done or described before, but they can't patent the idea itself of a teleporter or food replicator.
Samsung is just mad they didn’t see it first…..pleeeessssse
I'm surprised Apple didn't mention the Newton, their original tablet computer that came out ca. 1992 (I understand development began in1987, which woud be important in a legal case). It had pen input and handwriting recognition, and was pretty slick for its day. It just came out about 20 years before the demand.
"Apple revolutionized the handwriting recognition industry in 1987 when it introduced the wildly popular Newton."
Now that would be fiction being stranger than truth.
I think the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sounds an awful lot like a Blackberry in design to me, maybe they should sue too?
I love it when lawyers get their absurd on.
"If you've seen the movie…you'll probably remember they had some fairly serious computer security problems towards the end."
OK…that one busted me up. HAR!
If they want to start talking about 2001, couldn't the Motorola Droid be sued for using the HAL-9000 red eye in their advertising campaign?
To learn where the iPAD came from and to get a good idea of where it is heading all one needs to do is watch an Apple video about the knowledge navigator.
This video from the 1980's features an iPAD like device, connected to the internet that used something called an intelligent agent that could search the internet for information that you want, organize it and present it to you in a natural ways using both visual display and natural speech. The pad had no keyboard and primary input was speech. The device could communicate with the user in natural speech. It was like an advanced iPOD 4S speech recognition on an iPAD. coupled to an intelligent search engine.
The Newton was Apple's first attempt to implement a limited version of the knowledge navigator, but the technology wasn't there yet and what there was was still too expensive to build an affordable device. At that time Apple had a voice recognition group researching practical voice recognition. That group was largely disbanded when Micheal's mishandling of the company caused it to tank.
When Steve came back to Apple he brought the dream of the knowledge navigator back with him. You can see the connection in both the iPHONE and the iPAD. The technology for the knowledge navigator isn't quite there yet, but unless someone losses the dream, both iPADs and iPHONES will become more and more knowledge navigator like. Though I suspect the knowledge navigator intelligent agent implementation is likely to be different.
Maybe the genesis for the knowledge navigator came from science fiction but it has been a goal that Apple has been working towards since the late 1980's. It was lost under Micheal and Amellio but came back when Steve came back. It is a dream within Apple that has been waiting for technology and infrastructure to catch up to it.
So does this mean that Siri is based on Hal? 'Cause that's creepy.
"Siri, I want to buy a Samsung."
"I can't let you do that Dave…"
On a more serious note, for those who believe that Apple come up with everything by themselves, may I suggest reading books by Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, Douglas Adams, Robert Heinlein as well as the t.v. show Prophets of Science Fiction.
On a lighter note, I can totally see the Guide being a tablet with a Wikipedia app. Can I get angry birds on that?
Wow. That's 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back. You should have titled this "What we already know, plus a few of my lame misplaced supposedly funny observations." This belonged on your Facebook page, not in an article!